As hundreds of migrant workers stranded in different parts of tamil Nadu are being identified and sheltered in government houses amid the coronavirus scare, there is another category of people who have been left in the lurch due to the lockdown -- the farmers and traders of perishable commodities. Most of them now run the risk of losses due to the closure of interstate borders and severe restrictions in transportation within the state. While the government had announced that essential goods like vegetables, fruits and milk will be available seamlessly, farmers have had to face uncertainty and obstruction at the ground level due to the lockdown orders. It was only on sunday, five days after the state-wide lockdown came into effect that the government of tamil Nadu eased the restriction on agriculture-related activities.
Dominic, a fisherman from Kanyakumari district in tamil Nadu, says that the revenue for fishes caught by deep-sea fishermen has taken a hit due to the lack of transportation options. “The fish we get from the deep sea are being sold for half price since we are at the mercy of those who can come till the coast and pick it up. In fact, some stock is still being kept in the boats now since there is no way to reach them to the markets,” he points out.
On the other hand, flower farmers and traders have it harder. While vegetables and fruits are classified as ‘essential goods’, flowers do not fall under that category. Hence the state-wide exemption doesn’t apply to those who are transporting flowers from one place to another. Meanwhile Sivasooriyan, who is also the district Secretary of Tamizhaga Vivasayigal Sangam says that the government of tamil Nadu could be proactive in helping farmers reach their produce to the markets. The government has the capability to procure the harvest at the zonal level and then undertake the transportation themselves. We can bear the losses for a day or two, but for 15-20 days at a stretch, who can do that?,” he asks. More deaths will happen due to this among farmers than due to coronavirus, if the situation continues like this.