1. Agriculture World

Indian Council of Agricultural Research Issues Advisory on Crop Harvesting amid COVID-19 Outbreak

Abha Toppo
Abha Toppo

The Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR) has said that farmers can delay harvesting of wheat till 20 April without incurring any major losses because the temperature in the growing regions is still below the long-term average. Government research body said this would give farmers sufficient time to manage the logistics for procurement & announcement of dates. Generally, wheat harvesting starts from March-end. ICAR also advised growers to take precautions against the COVID-19.

It is important to mention that Centre has pegged a record wheat production of 106.21 million tonne in 2019-20 crop year (i.e. July to June) due to good rainfall as against 103.6 million tonne in the previous year.

It further told that the movement of combine harvesters in the state & between the states is allowed, and asked cultivators to ensure that the workers doing repair, maintenance & harvesting task adopt safety measures for coronavirus. At present, manual harvesting of mustard, which is the second most important rabi crop, was in progress & threshing is due wherever it is already harvested.


The ICAR added that harvesting of maize, lentils and chillies was underway, while that of grams is fast approaching. In addition harvesting of sugarcane is also at its peak.

ICAR, in its advisory has asked growers to engage only with ‘familiar people to the extent possible & after reasonable enquiry to avoid the entry of any suspect or likely carrier of COVID-19 during field activity.’

It said “Prefer mechanised operations over the manual wherever possible. Only required numbers of persons must be allowed to accompany the machine”.  For manual field operations of harvesting or picking, do the operation in 4 to 5 feet spaced strips assigning one strip to one person. This would ensure enough spacing between the engaged labours.

The ICAR said, “All the people engaged should use masks & ensure hand washing with soap at proper intervals. Keep safe distance of 3 to 4 feet during rest, eating food, transfer of produce at collection point and loading or unloading”.

Regarding rabi paddy, it said the crop in southern states has been widely affected because of ‘’neck blast’’ disease. Hence, adequate precautions must be taken while spraying of recommended fungicide by contract sprayers/ farmers.

The research body also said that farm machines & implements must be sanitised at entry point regularly.

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