New Delhi: The Union Agriculture Ministry on Thursday laid down the standard operating procedure (SOP) to guide farmers on safety precautions that need to be strictly followed during planting of Kharif crops amid the threat of COVID-19 pandemic.
Paddy is the main Kharif (summer) crop, besides pulses, oilseeds and commercial crops like cotton and sugarcane. The sowing of Kharif crops has already begun in some parts.
“Transplanting of paddy and vegetables are labour-intensive activities. Hence, strictly follow guidelines on social distancing, sanitizing and wearing masks,” as per the SOP released by the ministry during the national video conference on Kharif crops.
Farm workers should wash their hands, legs and face with soap when coming out of the field for meal or rest, it said.
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For preparing land for the sowing of Kharif crops, the ministry said farmers should minimise labour and use tractor driven machineries. Farmers should use seed-cum-fertiliser drills and reduce the number of workers in the field.
As per the SOP, social distancing and sanitization norms should be followed during field preparation, sowing and fertiliser application.
“Maintain social distance at least 1-2 metre during farm operations. Workers should be assigned separate duties with regard to farm activities,” it said.
“All farm equipment from seed drill, plough to tractor should be sanitized before use. Those working in the farm field should wear masks or cover their face with three layers of chunnis, gamchha or towel,” it added.
Each worker should have a separate utensil and clean it with soap after use, it said.
For other operations like weeding and spraying of fertilisers/pesticides, the ministry said farmers or workers must follow all protocols of social distancing and sanitize the equipment.
“Burn or bury in soil empty packets of pesticides. Sun-dry empty bags of seeds, fertilisers for two days for re-use,” the ministry said.
The ministry also mentioned that after the day’s work, farmers should bath and wash clothes with soap and sundry.
For harvesting of rabi crops, the ministry said farmers should prefer mechanised harvesting and threshing, and maintain 4-5 metres social distancing during harvesting, threshing, packaging, eating and resting.
Farmers have been asked to keep farm produce in open, preferably under the sun for 48 hours before storing.
Agriculture and allied activities have been exempted from the lockdown imposed to prevent the spread of coronavirus.