Farmers worried as combine harvesters from Punjab stuck in other states

Published on Mar 31, 2020 07:25 PM IST

Around 8,000 combines from Punjab have gone to other states to harvest wheat crop

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HT Image
By, Bathinda

Wheat growers in Punjab are anxious as the harvest season is about to begin, but thousands of combine harvesters from the state are yet to come back from other states where wheat harvest is going on these days.

Farmers feel that delay in return of these combines due to the ongoing lockdown in the country will delay wheat harvesting in the state.

Combines from Punjab have been sent on hire to states such as Madhya Pradesh (MP), Maharashtra, Gujarat and Rajasthan for wheat harvest.

In Punjab, wheat has been cultivated on around 35 lakh hectares this season. Majority of wheat harvesting is done through combine harvesters in the state. There are around 18,000 combine harvesters in the state. Nearly, 8,000 of these have gone to other states, according to combine operators.

Meanwhile, Punjab chief minister Capt Amarinder Singh has said that he has asked deputy commissioners to allow free movement of combine harvesters in the state. In a tweet, he said that harvesters’ movement within Punjab as well as across various states will be permitted.

However, harvester operators feel that due to long distance travel and curbs on movement, it is better for them to remain wherever they are.

Talking to HT over phone, Nikka Singh of Burj Sema village near Talwandi Sabo, who is operating a combine in Indore district of MP, “I am working here since March 6 and had planned to come back home by March 27. Our family members are asking us to reach home as soon as possible but we can’t do so. The machines are required in Punjab by the start of harvest season there, but it doesn’t seem possible due to restrictions on movement and large distance,” he said.

“Staying in MP means we will at least get food and shelter, but if we set out for Punjab, we don’t know where we will get stranded,” he added.

Another combine operator Kala Singh of Talwandi Sabo, who is also in MP, said: “The harvest season in MP will end within a few days and we are now needed in Punjab. The government is said to have permitted the movement of agriculture machinery but going back with harvesters seems tough.”

BKU (Ekta-Ugrahan) leader Shingara Singh Mann said the absence of a large number of combines will definitely affect the wheat harvesting in the state.

He said that due to shortage of harvesters, farmers will have to look for labour, which will also be difficult to find during the prevailing circumstances.

Director, agriculture, Sutantar Kumar Airi, however, said, “Out of around 19,000 harvesters in the state, only about 5,000 have gone to other states, so availability of machines is not a problem. Even the harvesters deployed in other states can come back as the Centre has allowed free movement of agricultural machinery. However, we are concerned about the shortage of labour for the harvest season”.

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