GUWAHATI, April 19 - Assam had extensively done summer paddy cultivation covering over four lakh hectares during the preceding months (Nov-Dec to Jan-Feb) and the yield would be ready for harvesting by end of April and May. Revealing this, sources in the agriculture department told The Assam Tribune that adequate plant protection measures were taken when over 9,000 hectares of cropland (summer paddy and maize) were infected by pests across 18 districts, hindering chances of crop loss.
�We are confident of a very good paddy harvest, which will go a long way in ensuring food security for the people. Harvesting of maize in over 38,000 hectares of land will also begin in the next few days,� sources added.
Admitting that there had been a gap in facilitating procurement and transportation of vegetables during the initial period of the lockdown, sources said that the entire chain of vegetable delivery to the vendors has been streamlined now.
The loss of vegetable yield due to the ongoing lockdown has been pegged at 10,136 MT as on April 18.
�Across the State, 3,290 selected vendors have been engaged in selling vegetables to the masses at a price fixed by the government. Two committees at district and State levels are closely monitoring the situation, including procurement and transportation,� sources said, adding that the demand for vegetables witnessed a substantial fall following closure of hotels and restaurants, hostels, and community gatherings.
Rabi vegetables cover an area of around 4.51 lakh hectares in the State, while kharif vegetables spread over 1.17 lakh hectares. Production of rabi and kharif vegetables stood at 66.95 lakh MT and 12.73 lakh MT respectively last season.
Sources said that even during the lockdown, agriculture and allied activities were not allowed to come to a grinding halt with field and related activities continuing in strict adherence to the Central government�s lockdown guidelines and the Assam health department�s instructions.
�Every effort was made to ensure crop security. While vegetable crops were harvested and sold through authorized retailers, seeds were also planted during the lockdown by maintaining social distancing and other norms,� sources said.
In Dibrugarh district alone, 311 sellers earned Rs 1.4 crore by selling 7,01,325 kg of vegetables.
Meanwhile, RBI Governor Shaktikanta Das has lauded the performance of the Assam�s agriculture sector and the role of the agriculture department facilitating unhindered farming even during the lockdown.
Sources, quoting the RBI Governor, said that Assam along with West Bengal, Karnataka, Telangana, Odisha and Chhattisgarh have done exceedingly well in maintaining agricultural production during the lockdown.
�The RBI Governor said that the country has achieved record yield of food grain and horticulture products and there was sufficient stock of rice and wheat,� sources said.