NEW DELHI: The Union government on Friday asked states and union territories to ensure smooth harvesting and sowing operations, saying agricultural activities were exempted from the 21-day lockdown enforced to combat coronavirus.

In a communication to all states and UTs, Union Home Secretary Ajay Bhalla said the farming operations by farmers, farm workers and procurement of agricultural productions are exempted from the nationwide lockdown.

Bhalla said the home ministry has allowed agricultural operations, keeping in view the harvesting and sowing season.

He said though exceptions have been allowed for farming operations by farmers and farm workers, procurement of agricultural productions, operation of mandis, movement of harvesting and sowing related machinery, etc., however, as per information received, these exceptions have not percolated down at the field level.

“With a view to ensure smooth harvesting and sowing operations, while maintaining social distancing, it is requested that the exceptions allowed for agriculture sector must be communicated to all field agencies,” he said.

The lockdown was announced by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on March 24 in a bid to combat the coronavirus pandemic.

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