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Marginal farmers hit by lockdown in Morigaon district

By Correspondent

MORIGAON, May 2 - Following the release of two COVID-19 affected persons of Morigaon district from the MMC Hospital, Guwahati yesterday, Morigaon district went to �Orange� zone from �Red� zone yesterday. According to Dr Arun Nath, Incharge Doctor, COVID-19 surveillance group, Lahorighat, 15 persons in the quarantine at Lahorighat Model Hospital were also released yesterday and no fresh COVID-19 case was reported in the district. If no corona positive case is detected till May 15, the district will go to green zone, said Dr Nath.

However, following the countrywide extension of lockdown upto May 17, the poor and marginal farmers and their families have plunged into untold misery. It is an open secret in the district that there has been no long-term compensation measures for those farming families of the district, either from the government side or from any social organisations. Nearly 88 per cent of the total population of the district depends on agriculture, horticulture, piggery, pisciculture and dairy farming. But, since March 24 onward the continuous lockdown has pushed these marginal farmers into an unprecedented worrisome economic situation.

To further worsen the impact, there is no government procurement policy regarding the exchange of green vegetables and horticulture items. As such, hundreds of tonnes of green vegetables, tomatoes, pumpkins, watermelons are rotting in the fields in four agricultural circles namely Bhurbandha, Mayong, Lahorighat and Bhuragaon in Morigaon district.

Sushil Chandra Hazarika, a progressive farmer of Naokata village under Bhurbandha Agri Circle said that he has lost his vegetable crops in his field amounting to Rs 1.5 lakh. Considering the situation, Agriculture Minister, Atul Bora visited the fields in Bhurbandha in the first week of April and assured the farmers that compensation will be paid to them from PM Kisan Yojana. But no compensation has been received by the affected farmers till date. The irony of the situation is that some middlemen taking the chance of lockdown have collected green vegetables from the farmers for free promising them to pay later.

The most alarming situation is that the monsoon is round the corner. The farmers of Morigaon district could not cultivate their land for Boro crops as almost all irrigation schemes of the district are defunct. The diesel for water supply machine to irrigate their lands is a distant dream as farmers were denied purchase of diesel from petrol depots, let alone free distribution of seeds, manure etc., from the government side. The Sali is mostly a chance crop for Morigaon district as the Brahmaputra�s floods wreak havoc every year. Moreover, the damaged dykes of the Brahmaputra at Lahorighat are yet to be repaired on the pretext of it being a containment area. The government agencies are mute spectators in this alarming situation at a time when the agriculture-based rural economy of Morigaon district is on the brink of collapse.

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