Following the lockdown to contain the spread of coronavirus, farmers in the state are facing the heat at present due to scarcity of agricultural inputs, chemical fertilisers and honey bees. The horticulture department had purchased some pesticides in December but now they are already running out of stock. Private dealers too are unable to procure fresh stocks. It takes 45 days for testing and procurement of fungicides, said Parkash Thakur, an apple grower in Kotgarh and former vice-chairman of Horticultural Produce Marketing Corporation ( HPMC).
Fruit growers had demanded that the government should allow the movement of beekeepers from the neighboring states. Honey bees are one of the main and natural pollinators used in apple orchards, and by stone fruit (plum, cherry, almonds, apricot) growers.
“Farmers in the state have orchards in more than one district and this time is critical for the crop harvesting. The government should allow relaxation to procurement agencies and farm operations so that farmers should continue their operations smoothly, said Progressive Apple Grower Association president Lokinder Singh in a letter to chief minister Jai Ram Thakur.
The shortage of agricultural labourers has added to their woes. Nepalese constitute the major workforce in the apple-growing areas of the state. Amidst the curfew and lockdown, the apple growers are facing a dearth of agricultural labourers.