Unknown they stand as they brave the scorching heat, the terrible treatment of weather, tirelessly they work in order to feed the whole population and to make their both ends meet—the farmers. But, the COVID 19 pandemic and the after-effects of the lockdown has abruptly wreaked havoc over farmers of Tripura —the paddy cultivators in specific.
The condition of farmers in the bordering areas, where a considerable amount of farmers depend on agriculture for a living is far more disappointing. According to reports, there are not less than 23,000 farmers in Tripura, who are dependent on their cropland that fall beyond the territory of international fencing. The strict vigil inflicted along the border in the aftermath of the lockdown prevented them to get their ripe crops bring back home.
One local farmer Sajilak Miah of Belabar located in the peripheries of Agartala city felt that the unforeseen lockdown and its after effects had somehow brought in serious financial hurdles for him and his entire family.
“We are late in harvesting our ripe crops by sharp 1 month. Usually, the paddy is harvested in the beginning of Baisakha(The first month of Bengali calendar) and its Jaistha(The following month) and we are still collecting our crops from field. Almost every paddy plant has sprouted up which means the quality of the paddy we are going to have will not be good enough for good quality rice”, he said.
Another farmer Mubarak Miah almost echoing the same pointed out that there have been serious issues with the process of marketing. Despite Tripura government has assured the farmers of procuring paddy in MSP (Minimum Support Price), farmers have been seemed to be worried about the future of their crops since transportation has emerged as a big issue in the lockdown period.
In Mubark’s own words, “This is basically the season of selling. Usually we harvest our crops in the month of Baisakh and sell it in this month. But, sudden strike of lockdown has left us in huge financial crisis. The prices in the markets are also not expected to be enough to compensate our spending. Since there is no transport available, immediate access to the markets are also not available straight away”.
One woman farmer, Jonaki Begum, who come from a needy family, however, alleged that despite there are tall claims no one came up to help her. Jonaki’s husband, who worked in a local shop, and her father in law, a rickshaw puller by profession, were jobless since the lockdown was imposed. They were the key bread earners of her family.
“My husband use to work in a local shop. My father in law works as a rickshaw puller. Both are jobless and sitting idle in home. I am working here to help the family. In this crisis, not a single person have show up with any help or relief for us”, Jonaki explains.
Elderly Sahid Miah, on the other hand alleged, despite procuring necessary permissions from they were not allowed to enter their crop-fields by the BSF.
“All our crops have drowned by the flood. The BSF continue keeping the gates closed despite repeated pleas. We have approached local member, local pradhan but they can not help us. Finally, we approached the Sub-divisional magistrate but despite possessing necessary permission from him, we have been thwarted by the BSF people”, Sahid claimed pointing finger at the BSF.
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