ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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​Ameliorating Rural Distress

Expansion of the scope and coverage of social safety nets to support livelihoods is the need of the hour.

The COVID-19 pandemic and the ensuing lockdown that coincided with the rabi harvest season has also adversely affected the livelihoods of the poor and vulnerable sections dependent on the agriculture and its related sectors among other sectors. In fact, the outbreak of the pandemic has compounded an already existing unemployment and distress situation in the country. Although the crisis engendered by the novel coronavirus has an impact that varies across states and regions, the disruptions in the food supply chains have been evenly felt across the states. While the government in one of its several announcements has allowed farm activities during the extended lockdown, much damage has already been done.

This has happened as there was a lack of proper planning before the first announcement of the nationwide lockdown on 24 March to mitigate its immediate detrimental impacts on the economy in general and the livelihoods of the poor in particular. Disruptions in the procurement of foodgrains by the government agencies, limited and staggered operations of the Agricultural Produce Market Committee (APMC) mandis, blockages in the transport of agricultural commodities and the closure of retail markets have caused bottlenecks in the supply and marketing of agricultural and farm produce. The immediate effect has been a fall in farm prices of a range of agricultural and horticultural commodities. The shortage of labour in the farms has also hindered the harvesting of the rabi crop on time as migrant labour returned to their home states amidst the pandemic. This has happened at a time when the acreage under the rabi crop has gone up significantly, compared to the last kharif season. According to government estimates, the acreage under rabi crop increased by 9.5% compared to kharif by the end of January 2020.

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Updated On : 11th May, 2020
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