Farm Workers, Agriculture Companies Exempted from Lockdown: Home Ministry

The government has notified procurement agencies like the Food Corporation of India, Nafed, and other state agencies that buy foodgrains and pulses from farmers at minimum support prices under goods and services exempted under the Disaster Management Act to ensure smooth procurement operations ahead of the fresh harvest season.

The Union home ministry has issued fresh guidelines exempting additional categories related to agricultural operations. “They have been exempted under the Disaster Management Act, concerning the 21-day lockdown,” an order stated.

The second addendum issued by home secretary Ajay Bhalla on Friday exempted farm workers in the fields and farming operations by farmers, agencies engaged in procurement of agriculture products including MSPs, mandis notified by the state governments, inter and intra-state movement of harvesting and sowing-related machines and manufacturing, packaging units of fertilizers, pesticides, and seeds, among others.

During the 21-day lockdown, movement of public transport has been restricted while markets, schools, and other establishments have been closed. Only essential services and goods are allowed during the lockdown period.

On Thursday, the Home Ministry came up with standard operating procedures (SOPs) for the delivery of essential services through e-commerce and asked States and Union Territories to take measures to specify shops, including ration units dealing with food, groceries, fruits, vegetables, milk products, among others, to ensure supplies.

Noting that the availability of essential goods takes place through small local retail shops, large organized retail stores, and e-commerce companies, the home secretary said the suppliers of essential goods, including restaurants supplying home delivery of cooked food items are exempted.

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