The ban by the government on the operation of combine harvesters during night hours from 7 pm to 10 am does not make any sense in view of the area required to be harvested and the availability of combine harvesters during the peak season.
While the entire wheat crop matures at the same time, harvesting machines fall short of demand during the season as the whole crop requires to be harvested in about 10 days. During the peak season, combines run for about 18 hours to help farmers bring home their produce as early as possible, the government ban leaves only nine operational hours for them.
The ban on harvesting during night hours may lead to much higher rates of rent on combine harvesters besides many other risk factors such as fire and damage by bad weather. The crop is already damaged at many places due to rain and strong winds. It is also likely to increase the during of the harvesting season.
"The farming community is already facing a lot of harassment. If this ban is implemented, it will further complicate their problems. Wheat crop matures simultaneously and needs to be harvested in a week. If combines are not allowed to be operated at night, the season would prolong to about two more weeks. It will also lead to higher rates for harvesting by combine harvesters.
Besides it, there are many other risk factors too, as wheat crop is very susceptible to catching fire and getting damaged by the bad weather," said Jaswinder Singh, a farmer from Ghania village.
"If the government cannot help the farmers, it has no right to stop them from bringing their produce home as early as possible," he said. Even in case of fire, farmers are not usually compensated by the government.
By imposing restrictions on the harvesting of wheat during night, the government aims to reduce the moisture content in wheat. If the crop is harvested at night, it has more moisture content which leads to marketing problems.
But, as the number of the combine harvesters is too small, they have to be put into operation from morning to till late hours in the night. "If the combine harvester is allowed to be operated only during daytime, it will be able to harvest about 30 to 40 acres a day.
The season starts simultaneously in the region because most of the wheat crop is sown after paddy.
The farmers are always in a hurry to harvest the crop to avoid any problem," said Parminder Singh, an operator of a combine harvester.
Mangal Singh Sandhu, director, agriculture, said that it is not under their jurisdiction. "It is with the district administration to implement it or not," he said.
Deputy commissioner Mohammad Tayyab Faridkot said that such a ban is usually imposed every year to stop any kinds of accidents during night operations or harvesting or carrying load to the grain markets."However, we have instructions from the government in this regard." he added.