Could coronavirus drive farmers to adopt sustainable practices in India’s breadbasket?
Australian Centre for International Agricultural Research, Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, United States of America
June marks the start of the rice growing season in India’s breadbasket but on the quiet fields of Haryana and Punjab you wouldn’t know it.
Usually the northwestern Indian states are teeming with migrant laborers working to transplant rice paddies. However, the government’s swift COVID-19 lockdown measures in late March triggered reverse migration, with an estimated 1 million laborers returning to their home states.
The lack of migrant workers has raised alarms for the labor-dependent rice-wheat farms that feed the nation. Healthy harvests are driven by timely transplanting of rice and, consequently, by the timely sowing of the succeeding wheat crop in rotation.