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Elets Exclusive | Telangana’s agriculture sector all set to serve amidst COVID-19 crisis

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Dr B Janardhan Reddy, APC and Secretary, Agriculture and Cooperation Department, Telangana

The COVID-19 outbreak has been one of the biggest threats to humanity and has claimed more than a lakh of lives worldwide as of yet. The grim situation has made Governments across the globe to seriously brainstorm solutions to mitigate the pandemic. And, forums everywhere have started discussions on the effects of COVID-19 in various spheres including economy, ecology, society, businesses and so on to come up with alternatives to at least keep the system surviving. In one such webinar hosted by Elets Technomedia Pvt Ltd and moderated by Dr Ravi Gupta, Founder and CEO, Elets Technomedia, Dr B Janardhan Reddy, APC and Secretary, Agriculture and Cooperation Department, Telangana discussed the effect of COVID-19 on agriculture ecosystem, food supply chains and markets in reference to the State of Telangana.

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Dr Reddy, reminding of the significance of social distancing practice with his gestures, commenced the webinar with ‘Swachh Namaskar’. The name ‘Swachh’, meaning clean,  given to a regular gesture of respect and greet in India – namaskar – itself is an example of how seriously hygiene and social distancing is being followed in the country especially by the government authorities.

The practice of Swachh Namaskar was introduced by him when he is the Commissioner & Director of Municipal Administration, Government of Telangana. It was a simple yet effective and innovative initiative. As a basic preventive measure against the COVID-19, ‘Swachh Namaskar’ is a practice people are following in Telangana and in other parts of the country as well.

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The agricultural scenario in Telangana in times of COVID-19

While addressing the webinar on the effect of COVID-19 on agriculture, Dr Reddy said that the COVID-19 situation has been hard-hitting for the farmers but thankfully in Telangana, the agriculture sector is doing well. However, “We are taking all the necessary steps required to aid the farmers”, said Dr Reddy.

Elaborating about the initiatives taken by the authorities, he said, “We are ensuring MSP to farmers and procuring the grains from their doorstep.” Bank account details of the farmers have been taken and the money is directly transferred to their accounts, added Dr Reddy.

Moreover, he said that the proactive approach of the authorities has turned as a great help to minimise the effect of COVID-19 on agriculture. The government has worked on the water management aspect earlier because of which the reservoirs are full. Therefore, the river water is lifted and is being sent for farming. “The required measures have been taken to ensure that enough water is being supplied to the farmers for cultivation and we are at the level of maximum cultivation”, said Dr Reddy.

Talking about the maximum cultivation in the state he added that Telangana is not only known as the ‘rice bowl’ of India but also the ‘seed bowl’, as 60 percent of the country’s requirements are met by the state’s produce.

Supply chain management during times of COVID-19 

Considering the significance of technology in enhancing the functioning of processes and governance, Dr Reddy further addressed the supply chain management in the state of Telangana which is backed by technological interventions. He said, “Telangana is the only state where online crop recording is done. So, we have a database holding information about in which state which farmer is cultivating which crop and how much.” This helps in stock recording, stock management and stock maintenance as well, he added.

When asked about the logistics of the vegetables and their supply, Dr Reddy answered, the authorities are, at present, using as many as 300 vehicles on a daily basis to take vegetable from 12 centres in the state and supply the same to people. Also, to ensure the smooth functioning of the supply chain and that the vegetables are being delivered to every household, we are using GPS technology to track the vehicles, added Dr Reddy.

Need to bring in behavioural change in people 

Dr Reddy was of the view that with time people have changed their eating habits because of which the health factor has reduced and they have become more vulnerable to diseases. In this time of COVID-19 crisis when the only saviour could be prevention and strong immune system, it is necessary for people to focus on their health and try and boost their immunity, he added.

Further, emphasising on the healthy eating habits, Dr Reddy said, fruits are rich in minerals and hence improves the immunity. “We have excluded fruits from our diets compromising our immunity”, he added. Dr Reddy said, “With the help of Self-Help Groups (SHGs) and other such groups, we are trying to spread awareness among people and make them change their eating habits. We started fruit days to make people include fruit in their diets.”

He concluded by saying that Telangana is in a good state to pass through the COVID-19 situation, as of yet. The State has enough food supplies to serve the population including those stranded in the state limits and the authorities are making efforts to ensure food to all. Moreover, our agriculture sector and farmers are in a good state as well.

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