India: Agricultural innovations to achieve food security in Manipur

The current COVID-19 pandemic has created in an unprecedented economic, social and health crisis and it may have an extensive and long-term influence on the agriculture sector in Manipur.

The Indian government implemented a lockdown to control the spread of the COVID-19 on 24 March. Agriculture was exempted and over the following weeks guidelines were published that exempted related activities, such as inputs in fisheries and food processing.

The lockdown and closure of public transport led to an exodus of labourers. This lockdown period coincided with the harvesting season of the winter-planted crops, vegetables like tomatoes, potatoes, watermelon etc in the state which faced a record good harvest after a good monsoon. However, wholesale markets were closed and there was a shortage of farm labourers.

It has resulted in logistic difficulties in food production and supply chains, especially in the high value commodities such as fruits, vegetables, meat, fish, milk etc.  The closures of markets, restaurants diminish the demand for fresh meat, fish, poultry and their products affecting producers and suppliers.

The government has now announced several packages to protect vulnerable elements, including farmers from any adverse impacts of this COVID 19 pandemic.

The Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR) has also issued state-wise guidelines for farmers to be followed during the lockdown period. The advisory mentions specific practices during harvest and threshing of various rabi (winter sown) crops as well as post-harvest, storage and marketing of the farm produce.

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