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Farmers can delay wheat harvesting till Apr 20 as temp is below long-term average: ICAR

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New Delhi:  Farmers can delay wheat harvesting till April 20 without incurring any major losses as temperature in the growing states is still below the long-term average, government research body ICAR said on Tuesday, while advising farmers to take precautions amid the rapid spread of coronavirus in India.

Normally, wheat harvesting begins from March-end. The government has pegged a record wheat output of 106.21 million tonnes in 2019-20 crop year (July-June) on the back of good rains as against 103.60 million tonnes in the previous year.

In its latest advisory to farmers, the Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR) sad, “The temperature in most wheat growing areas is still below long-term average and therefore likely to delay wheat harvesting by at least 10-15 days beyond April 10, therefore, farmers can delay wheat harvesting till April 20 without incurring any significant loss.”

This would give farmers enough time to manage logistics for procurement and announcement of dates, it said.

ICAR said the movement of combine harvesters within the state and between states is permitted, and asked farmers to ensure that the workers engaged in repair, maintenance and harvesting operation adopt safety measures for coronavirus.

Currently, manual harvesting of mustard — the second most important rabi crop — is underway and threshing is due wherever it is already harvested.

ICAR said harvesting of lentils, maize and chillies is in progress, while that of grams is fast approaching. Sugarcane harvesting is also at its peak, while it is also time for manual planting in the north.

In its advisory, the agri-research body asked farmers to engage only “familiar persons to the extent possible and after reasonable enquiry as to avoid the entry of any suspect or likely carrier (of the coronavirus) during field activity.”

“Prefer mechanized operations over the manual wherever feasible. Only the essential numbers of persons should be allowed to accompany the machine,” it said.

In case of manual field operations of harvesting/ picking, accomplish the operation in 4-5 feet spaced strips assigning one strip to one person. This will ensure adequate spacing between the engaged labours, it added.

ICAR further asked farmers to stagger field operations wherever possible, and avoid engaging more number of persons on the same day.

“All the persons engaged should use masks and ensure hand washing with soap at reasonable intervals. Maintain safe distance of 3-4 feet during rest, taking of meals, transfer of produce at collection point, loading/unloading,” it said.




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