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Agriculture is the Backbone of Bihar's Economy with 77% of Workforce being Farmer: Dr. Prem Kumar

In midst of the nationwide lockdown, PHD Chamber of Commerce & Industry has organized an Interactive Webinar on “Best Practices Taken by the Government in Agriculture and Agri-Business to fight COVID-19” with the presence of Bihar Agriculture, Animal Husbandry and Fishery Resources Minister Dr. Prem Kumar.

Pronami Chetia

In midst of the nationwide lockdown, PHD Chamber of Commerce & Industry has organized an Interactive Webinar on “Best Practices Taken by the Government in Agriculture and Agri-Business to fight COVID-19” with the presence of Bihar Agriculture, Animal Husbandry and Fishery Resources Minister Dr Prem Kumar. 

 Moreover, the agriculture minister appreciated the efforts of PHD Chamber of Commerce and Industry to organize such an interactive webinar on such a significant issue in these critical times of COVID -19 and spoke about how the Govt of Bihar is aiding and helping the farmers to overcome the challenges in the times of this pandemic. He said that Agriculture is the backbone of Bihar's economy and almost 77% of the workforce are farmers. And the lockdown has badly affected them, stopping all of their activities. He said that the agriculture sector is facing a lot of trouble with labourers and movement of goods. Even as agriculture produce is exempted from lockdown directives being an essential commodity, still the sector is facing a lot of challenges. 

Agriculture which contributes majorly in the Indian economy is one of the hardest hit sectors due to the Covid-19 lockdown in India. To understand the challenges and way forward, PHD Chamber of Commerce and Industries, conducted an interactive Webinar on " Best Practices Taken by the Government in Agriculture and Agri-Business to fight COVID-19 Crisis" with Dr. Prem Kumar, Hon’ble Minister of Agriculture, Animal Husbandry and Fishery Resources, Govt of Bihar on 6th May 2020. The session witnessed a participation of more than 60 industry players and senior members of PHD Chamber all over the country. 

The lockdown took place when the kharif season was about to commence, hence the harvesting of the crops is taking time. The litchi-growers in various district are disappointed and suffering due to the coronavirus pandemic-driven lockdown. The lockdown led to the delay in the harvesting of standing crops of wheat and maize, or else the crop would go bad. Though harvesting is underway in most of Bihar, the farmers are now worried about the procurement of the goods, said  Dr. Prem Kumar, Hon’ble Minister. 

Appreciating the efforts of Sh. Narendra Modi, Hon’ble Prime Minister of India, he said that Central and state govt guidelines have come to the rescue of a lot of farmers.  Shops of milk, milk products, eggs, fish, chicken etc are opened. The Bihar agriculture department too issued advertisements in local newspapers, detailing several dos and don’ts for famers and labourers during harvesting.  Social distancing in the field, washing of sickle and other tools thrice a day, wash their hands at regular intervals are being followed. Availability of fertilizers, seeds, agricultural machinery etc to the farmers is being done. The farmers are also being transferred an amount of Rs. 2000/- and other subsidies to help them financially.  Dog food and cattle feed is also being made available to the farmers. And the transportation sector is being smoothened so that the crops and other essential are easily taken from one place to another. 

Nand Kishore (IFS), Director (Horticulture), Department of Agriculture, Govt of Bihar also expressed his concern over how the litchi harvesting has been badly affected due to the virus. Even though 50% of the harvest is consumed by Bihar, but the remaining is transported to different parts of the country. And the logistics and transportation sector is a major issue that has to be sorted. 

Pradeep Multani, Vice President, PHDCCI while welcoming the Hon’ble Minister shared his thoughts on how the agriculture sector is badly affected due to the corona virus and how difficult the situation has become for the farmers to survive. He said that the objective of the webinar is to understand the policies and the initiatives undertaken by the Govt of Bihar in case of the crops and other perishable goods, which can also be adopted by other states. He also requested the Hon’ble Minister to throw some light on the stimulus packages for the farmers. The poultry and the fisheries are also badly affected during COVID-19, hence strategic solutions and an understanding is required be able to overcome these challenges as agriculture is the largest contributor to our economy. 

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