Press Trust of india

Lockdown hits farmers indirectly, supply of essentials shrinks

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Kolkata: The 21-day lockdown has hit farmers and essential item producers indirectly even as the government has exempted them from the purview of the shutdown

Edible oil supplies in the market have been hit due to various factors, industry players said.

These include lower production at plants due to reduction in the number of workers to maintain safety against COVID-19, less number of workers to load and unload raw materials at markets, less truck movement and payment disruptions.

“Our operations will be 50 per cent on an average for edible oils during this period,” Emami group director Aditya Agarwal said.

Emami is one of the largest players in the edible oils like soybean, rice bran and mustard oil in the country.

He, however, said things are improving and there is no reason of shortage as there are enough stock in the market.

Asked about price rise, he said there had been cost-push but price rise is not much.

Price of all major variants of edible oil has soared by Rs 10-20 a litre at retail level due to a combination of factors, retailers claimed.

Panagarh Sech & Agriculture Welfare Society secretary Amar Nayek said milk farmers are suffering losses as there had been disruption in offtake of our produce by the agro industry companies.

“Amul picks our fresh milk but they are taking far less quantity due to the lockdown,” he said.

The Hooghly-based farmers body said it has some 1,200 farmers under its fold and have written to the state government to exempt agro-based companies.

They said if agro-industries are not allowed to function smoothly during the lockdown then it will impact potato farmers next season.

“Pepsi procure potatoes also from us. They have taken this year’s output but if they are unable to manufacture then they will procure less quantity next year from potato farmers,” Nayek said.

Murshidabad-based paneer makers said, “we are unable to sell our produce and price have slipped more than 50 per cent to Rs 100 a kg, while in the city price has spurt over Rs 300 a kg.

South 24 Parganas-based puffed rice which is home- based industry is suffering due to the lockdown as prices have crashed while in the city there is a shortage.

“This is due to stoppage of trains. We ferry our production on suburban trains. There is shortage of labourers too,” farmers said.

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