Migrant labourers help Uttar Pradesh clock 77% rabi crop harvesting

A farmer shows wheat grains after threshing at a field. Photo: PTI
The influx of nearly half a million migrant labourers from other states following the coronavirus lockdown has turned out to be a boon for Uttar Pradesh in the ongoing rabi harvesting season.

The timely presence of such a large number of labourers in the rural areas has helped the state in achieving a record 77 per cent harvesting of the wheat crop so far.

In the current 2020 rabi season, UP is targetting total wheat production of almost 39 million tonnes (MT).

“There has been no shortage of farm labour due to the presence of migrant labourers, which has resulted in the state clocking 77 per cent of wheat harvesting so far while conforming to the social distancing norms,” UP additional chief secretary Awanish Kumar Awasthi said on Wednesday.

In fact, the harvesting of the oilseeds and pulses has already been completed. The rabi procurement season has begun and so far, the designated agencies have procured about 300,000 tonnes of wheat against the seasonal target of 5.5 MT.

Recently, the Adityanath government had announced it would provide local level jobs to the migrant labourers, who were forced to return to their native state following lockdown.

A high level committee headed by the UP agricultural production commissioner (APC) and comprising the principal secretaries of the departments of rural development, panchayati raj, skill development and micro, small and medium enterprises (MSME) has been constituted in this regard.

The committee will draft a roadmap for creating local level jobs under the state’s one district, one product (ODOP) scheme and also facilitate credit through the bank loan melas in the state. It will also offer suggestions for the creation of employment opportunities in other sectors and industries as well after the lockdown is lifted.

Meanwhile, 6,980 industrial units, mostly related to the manufacturing of medical and food items, are operational in UP, employing 125,000 workers.

“Besides, more than 12,000 brick kilns collectively employing between 1.2 million to 1.5 million labourers are also functioning,” Awasthi informed adding the UP sugar mills also employed another 60,000 workers.

The chief minister has instructed officials for allowing unrestricted movement of trucks carrying raw material and finished goods, especially in those districts which have reported less than 10 coronavirus cases.

UP has reported total of 1,412 coronavirus cases across 53 districts, of which 165 have been discharged, while 21 persons succumbed, thus leaving 1,226 active cases.

However, 10 of these 53 districts currently have zero active patients, although the government has not lowered guard with regards to screening, enforcing lockdown, sample testing, quarantining etc. If no new cases are reported in 14 days, a corona red zone is declared as orange zone. If no new cases emerge in total 28 days, the zone is declared as green.

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