Coronavirus: West Bengal Farmers Face Deep Losses Amid Covid-19 Lockdown

India Today TV spoke to many farmers in West Bengal who said they are more worried about their businesses than maintaining social distancing norms. Some of these farmers said they are facing deep losses due to the Covid-19 lockdown.

The lockdown due to Covid-19 pandemic has led to huge losses for farmers in the country.

Farmers in West Bengal are facing severe economic challenges due to the lockdown as they are being forced to sell their produce at a much lower price, leaving them with hardly any money to support their livelihoods.

Social distancing also remains a challenge for these farmers, who say they are trying their best to follow the guidelines.

India Today TV spoke to some farmers and found out that they are working in the fields without any protection during the lockdown as they have no choice.

Biswajit Patra, a farmer in North 24 Parganas in West Bengal, said, “We are not facing such problem for keeping social distance. The land is almost empty but we need support to tilling the land or even sowing the seeds.”

“As the government asked to maintain 2-meter distance, we are trying maintaining that. We are facing a problem in business.”

However, Patra said that he is forced to work during the lockdown as business has been bad.

“Somehow I am managing this. I cannot go against the government norms. I am supporting lockdown and it should be. But it is too hot in the field, so not possible for us to wear masks while working. Then the family members will die without food,” Patra added.

Bidyut Khara, another farmer, said he is facing major economic problems due to the lockdown.

“We are facing a big problem. I cannot sell our crops in the market. We can not find the seeds as the fertilizer shop is closed. Moreover, the prices are higher.”

When asked whether he is following Covid-19 guidelines issued by the government, he said people working in the fields do not weal masks as it is hot, but added that he has been following social distancing norms.

Shefali Bera, a lady farmer who works with her husband in their land, had no gloves or masks but reiterated that she and her husband always maintain social distancing norms. They also wear masks while travelling.

Bera, however, said their key problem is now procuring oils seeds as prices are high. She said prices of farming accessories and tools have skyrocketed due to the lockdown. However, they had to sell all their produce at much lesser prices, leaving them with hardly any income.

“We are running our family in this situation,” Bera said.

Her husband Surya Bera, who quickly covered his mouth with a napkin, said he is deeply concerned about the business.

“We are not getting the exact price of our vegetables. The customers are afraid of coming in the market,” he said.

Another farmer said they are not allowed to sell vegetables in the market and sometimes when they manage to do so, prices are not up to the mark.

“We cannot sell our vegetables in the market. Sometimes, we have to at lower prices. The buyers want to give Rs 4 or 5 per kg for what is Rs 10 per kg. Due to the extension of the lockdown period till May 3, we have no option to put our vegetables in the field. We have to die without food,” he said.

In Navaran and Suryapur area under Doperiya Gram panchayat, more than 100 farmers are involved with cultivation. Some of them own land while few opt to lease. Two big vegetables markets are situated in the area — Nalagarh and Nilguange.

Sanjeeb Bera said, “We generally go to Nilguange and Nalagarh vegetable market. But due to the lockdown, we stand on the road. We are not allowed to enter. Police raid in the morning and the buyers take the advantage. They offer a low price.”

In its lockdown 2.0 guidelines, the Union Home Ministry has provided some relaxations to agriculture-related activities. The guidelines will allow farming activities from April 20 to help “mitigate the hardship” faced by them.

Leave a Reply