In a heartbreaking incident, a farmer in Punjab set his sugarcane field on fire after he could not take the crop to a processing mill due to restrictions imposed to fight the coronavirus lockdown.
Jagtar Singh, the farmer, said that he somehow managed to sell some bundles of the cash crop to small juice-sellers, but they started disappearing in the last few months after they left for their hometowns.
Singh said the sugarcane field that he set on fire is worth Rs 5 lakh or even more. He had stopped selling it to juice-sellers after customers stopped coming.
"I planted sugarcane on two acres. The yield is worth over Rs 5 lakh since one acre gives about 400 quintals. The agriculture officials have not even contacted me... Since the sugar mill is closed in the area, I had to burn the field so that I can clear it and grow paddy here," Singh told NDTV.
"The government should compensate for our loss," he said.
Several other farmers like Jagtar Singh in Faridkot have two to four acre of sugarcane fields and earn about Rs 2 lakh a year selling the crop to juice-makers if the processing mills are not reachable.
Weeks after the nationwide lockdown was announced in late March, the Punjab government had said it would allow farmers temporary relief from the restrictions to help them harvest crop. However, restricted transport options and lack of awareness or clarity turned out to be a disaster for many farmers and stopped them from harvesting.
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