Amid lockdown in several states due to coronavirus, seed industry associations on Monday appealed both central and state governments to ensure uninterrupted and timely trans-boundary movement of agricultural inputs critical for the coming kharif season.

While seed being an essential commodity is exempt from the closure, the National Seed Association of India (NSAI) urged the government to allow the staff working in seed companies and their vehicles as well as retailers to function in the current situation.

Depending on the sowing period, retailers selling seeds may be allowed to open shops, it said in a statement and added that jute planting has already begun in West Bengal, while cotton will start soon in Punjab and Haryana.

“Next three months are critical for the farmers and for the food security of the country, as the farmers are preparing for the kharif season,” according to the Federation of Seed Industry of India (FSII).

In this situation, the FSII urged both central and state governments to support the uninterrupted and timely global and domestic movements of farm inputs like seeds, agricultural produce and food.

“These products should be allowed access to quarantine checkpoints to ensure continuous production of staple and essential food items,” it added.

FSII also suggested opening of ‘green lanes’/special food lanes at national and state toll booths, check-posts and on highways where food and agricultural input delivery vehicles can pass unhindered and are not subjected to roadblocks that might have been put up to restrict movement of people and other materials to fight the virus.

The special food lanes will allow smooth passage of all vehicles carrying essential food commodities and agri-inputs. Several countries such as Philippines, Thailand and China have also adopted similar measures, it said.

Source: This story first appeared in The Economic Times News Feed without any modifications to the text. Only the headline has been changed.

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