Last Thursday, some 10 tonnes of pumpkins produced by growers from Assam were shipped from Guwahati to Dubai. This brought hope for the state’s agriculture sector during these trying times.
While details of the growers who had grown these pumpkins – including how many of them would earn how much through this consignment – were not immediately available, it is definitely a huge boost to the farming community. It is worth keeping in mind the fact that thousands of growers across the state have suffered huge losses since the lockdown began in the fourth week of March, with hundreds of tonnes of vegetables – cabbage, cauliflower, carrot, brinjal, beans etc – had perished in the fields as there is no cold storage facility in the state.
Moreover, lack of imagination on the part of officials of the state agriculture department had also contributed to this crisis, because they simply could not organise a mechanism for procurement of the vegetables directly from the growers and marketing the same in Guwahati and other urban centres during the first few weeks of the lockdown.
Whatever little amount of fresh vegetables had come out of the farms during the lockdown was only because of the initiative taken by the growers themselves, with very little support from the government. Despite that, Agriculture Minister Atul Bora was seen trying to take credit by saying that during the lockdown period many growers have turned into vendors themselves and have sold fruits and vegetables worth about Rs 3.57 billion (€42.8 mln) in markets within and outside the state.