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If there’s no Bihari labour, the rabi crop is finished – Cover Story News

Sanjeev Kumar Goyal, 44, Wholesale procurement agent/ rice mill owner, Ludhiana, Punjab

Sanjeev Kumar Goyal

For the past 10 days, ever since the lock­down was ann­ounced, Sanjeev Goyal has been busy distributing food, medicines and other essentials to the Bihari labourers he oversees.

Goyal lives near Ahm­edgarh mandi, 20 kms from Ludhiana. Alt­hough harvesting activities in Punjab are totally mechani­sed now, the procurement process is still dependent on farm labour. If the labourers from Bihar do not arr­iveand latest by mid-Aprilthe entire rabi crop will be dest­royed, says a worried Goyal.

The harvesting is mainly done by harvesters and threshers but if there is no procurement by the Food Corporation of India and the private players, there is no use. The crop will simply be destroyed on the farm itself, he says.

Punjab produces 13.5 million tonnes of wheat and 18 million tonnes of paddy annually. Some 80 per cent of agricultural labour here comes from Bihar (the other 20 per cent comes from UP, Rajasthan and other states).

Goyal’s main labour contractor is Jai Prasad Sah, from Madhubani district of Bihar. Sah supplies 500-600 mig­rant workers each year, for procurement activities during the rabi crop and to Goyal’s rice mills in the kharif season. Sahji is like my brother. I have worked with him since I was 13 years old, says Goyal. has plenty of useful resources that can help you better understand the coronavirus pandemic and protect yourself. Read our comprehensive guide (with information on how the virus spreads, precautions and symptoms), watch an expert debunk myths, and access our dedicated coronavirus page.
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