Wheat harvesting and its allied operations are set to go side by side with electioneering in Punjab as the ripening of the crop has been delayed by about 7 to 10 days due to the prolonged winter season.
The operations are going to keep the farmers, farm labourers and others related to this occupation, directly or indirectly, busy till the polling day.
As wheat harvesting operations pick up in the days to come, the political participation of the people is likely to decrease more and more.
"It would certainly lead to thin crowds at the public meetings of the political parties. When the village folk are free, they are more inclined to listen to the politicians, but now we have found that only about 10% of the total number of voters in a village attend the public meetings of candidates," said Balkaran Singh Nangal, a Congress worker.
"Last year, we had started the procurement of wheat around April 7, but this year, we started it on Tuesday," said Kulbir Singh Matta, district mandi officer (DMO) Faridkot.
"Though harvesting is still slow, but it will pick up in the next two-three days if it remains clear, but uncertain weather may turn out to be a spoilsport if it rains," said Gurmeet Singh, a farmer from Kotkapura.
Many small farmers would also prefer to harvest the crop manually because of high rates of straw. The rates of wheat straw, which were usually around `250 to `350 per quintal earlier, shot up to the highest `700 this year.
"The wheat crop has matured about at least a week late this year due to prolonged winter season, but it would certainly lead to the increase in the yield of the crop as the low temperature has been favorable to crop. Still only a few farmers have started harvesting in the district," said Jagjeet Singh Sekhon, chief agriculture officer Faridkot.
The district has about 1.16 lakh hectares of land under wheat. Last year, 41.90 lakh quintals wheat was procured during the whole season from Faridkot markets.