The fear of inclement weather from Monday has triggered “panic harvesting” of wheat across the state.
Under high stress, the farmers are out in their fields even during night, even though harvesting after dark is banned. Many have already brought their produce to nearly 1,800 grain markets in Punjab. Agriculture minister Tota Singh told HT on Sunday that farmers were impatient to wrap up the work before another spell of rain and strong winds.
“The news of inclement weather coming up has forced farmers to harvest the crop even during night. They know it is banned but they can’t afford risk,” said the minister. About 42 lakh tonnes of wheat has arrived, so far, in the grain markets and most of it is dumped in the open, Tota Singh has stated, adding that he has coordinated with all the deputy commissioners to provide farmers with ‘tarpaulins’ to cover their wheat.
“Farmers are rushing to the mandis (grain markets) after harvesting, building up pressure and chaos that has slowed down procurement. However, to the farmers who are still harvesting their crop or will begin later, I make an appeal to keep the grain covered at home until the weather clears. In mandis, they will have to leave it exposed on the muddy floor,” said the minister.
Punjab Mandi Board chairman Ajmer Singh Lakhowal said that if it rained as predicted, there would be mess in the mandis. “Efforts are on to cover all the grain and sacks, and I have asked food and civil supplies minister Adesh Partap Singh Kairon for support,” he added. Punjab Agricultural University plant breeding specialist SPS Brar said that without arrangements to dry the grain, it would rot in 24 hours and start sprouting.