COVID-19: What fiscal steps are needed to ensure food security

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 Labdhi: COVID-19: What fiscal steps are needed to ensure food security
Procurement at the doorstep, direct income support and reaching out to farmers can help in easing farming operations at this crucial time
[19:52, 26/06/2020] Labdhi: The extension of the nationwide lockdown to combat the novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19), though necessary, will lead to a further suspension of work and no wages and means for families to support themselves.

The activities in manufacturing and services that provide non-essentials may be suspended, though with severe consequences. However, agricultural operations cannot be postponed much longer. Any delay may disturb the production system and affect India's food security.

Therefore, the Union, as well as state governments, are trying hard to resume agriculture-related activities. The rabi harvest is starting soon, and most farmers are struggling due to the lack of mobility of labor, machinery, and necessary equipment during this lockdown period.

Apart from logistical and administrative problems, farmers are facing a financial crunch at a time when the rabi crop is ready to be harvested, and the Kharif season is to start soon.

Lack of credit in the agricultural economy may lead to a distressed sale of produce to private traders and money lenders that may distort food supply management shortly.

Therefore, credit provisioning to the agricultural economy is crucial in maintaining food reserves in the country. In this context, let us discuss the status of food grain stocks in India and what actions are needed in easing farming operations during this crucial period.