COVID Protocols In Punjab Mandis As Wheat Procurement Begins
Punjab government has put in place COVID-19 protocols, including vaccination camps, in all the 154 Agricultural Produce Market Committees (APMC) across the state during wheat procurement process, commencing Saturday, April 10.
Anyone above 45 years of age visiting the grain markets during the Rabi marketing season will be inoculated at these centres.
According to the Chairman of Punjab Mandi Board, Lal Singh, the Mandi Board is fully geared up to meet “the challenging task of wheat procurement amid the trying times of pandemic”.
For the first time in Punjab, payment for their crop will be directly debited (DBT) to farmers’ bank accounts. Commission agents (Arthiyas), numbering around 45,000, and even the state government were initially against DBT. But the Centre refused to buy otherwise.
Urging stakeholders to adhere to COVID safety norms, Lal Singh said that the state government is committed to procuring all wheat from the mandis and also to ensure safety of farmers, labourers, Arthiyas and officials of procurement agencies.
The Punjab Mandi Board will strictly observe health protocol by providing 10,000 masks (N-95) and 10,000 bottles of sanitizers to its 5,600 officials and staff, the chairman added.
Besides, the Mandi Board has also arranged another one lakh masks and 35,000 liters sanitizers for farmers visiting purchase centres, he said.
In order to avoid crowding in the mandis, the number of purchase centres have been increased from 1,872 to 4,000 with a target of procuring 130 lakh metric tonnes of wheat.
He further pointed out that farmers were being asked to bring their produce in Mandis in a staggered manner. The Mandi Board will issue passes, provide potable water and ensure sanitation during the marketing season.
During the last Rabi marketing season, state government had procured 127.13 LMT of wheat despite the Covid pandemic restrictions and 17.51 lakh passes were issued to the farmers through Arthiyas.
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