A farmer in Punjab has set his vast sugarcane field on fire after he could not take the cash crop to a processing mill due to restrictions amid the coronavirus lockdown. The farmer, Jagtar Singh, said he somehow managed to sell a few bundles of sugarcane to small juice-sellers, but they too started disappearing in the last three months after they left for their hometowns amid the lockdown.
Mr Singh said the sugarcane field – full of standing crop – that he set on fire is worth over Rs 5 lakh. The farmer in Faridkot said he stopped selling to juice-sellers after customers stopped coming and they was the end of his income stream.
“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,” Mr Singh told NDTV.
“The government should compensate for our loss,” he said.
Others like him in Faridkot have two to four acre of sugarcane fields. They usually make about Rs 2 lakh a year selling to juice-makers if the processing mills are not reachable.
Weeks after the pan-India 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, few transport options and lack of clarity prevented many farmers from harvesting.
When wheat procurement began in Punjab on April 15, the state government decided to introduce a token system to stagger the process so that the highly infectious coronavirus could not spread.