Global Economy

HCL to donate quality seeds to 20k farmers in Hardoi, Lucknow ahead of kharif sowing

To ensure that farmers’ livelihood is not hit during the second wave of the pandemic, IT firm HCL Technologies on Sunday said it has decided to donate quality seeds to 20,000 farmers in Hardoi and Lucknow districts of Uttar Pradesh, ahead of kharif sowing.

Apart from seeds, the company is also ensuring that timely and sufficient supply of other agri-inputs like fertilisers and pesticides are made available for sale at the Hardoi Kisan Farmers’ Producers’ Organisation, it said.

Since some farmers are unable to take winter crops for sale to mandis due to lack of transport facility in the wake of the lockdown, the company is ramping up collection centres to ensure that the produce reaches the market.

This initiative is being undertaken as part of HCL Samuday, a flagship programme of HCL Foundation that is a philanthropic arm of HCL Technologies.

Speaking with PTI, HCL Samuday Director Alok Varma said the company has been working at a community level in 164 gram panchayats in Hardoi and Lucknow districts since 2015 in various areas, including agriculture and health.

“Definitely, this time, the pandemic has been much more severe in terms of impact. Last year, the spread of the disease in rural areas was not so much and people were interacting and doing livelihood works,” Varma said.

The situation, however, this time is different in rural areas. In times of lockdown, getting access to quality agri-inputs, especially seeds, becomes problematic, he said.

There is statewide curfew till May 31 in Uttar Pradesh to break the chain of COVID-19 transmission.

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Varma said farmers are preparing for sowing of kharif crops that starts in June-July. It does not seem like the lockdown will be lifted fully. To ensure farmers’ livelihood is not affected, the company has decided to donate quality seeds to 20,000 farmers in these two districts.

The company has a database of farmers of these two districts. Paddy, maize and vegetables are grown during the kharif (summer) season. Accordingly, seeds are being procured, he said.

Last year, HCL Technologies had undertaken a massive logistic exercise of distributing seeds to 20,000 farmers during the kharif season and it was a big success, he added.

In the case of other agri-inputs, Varma said, “We are helping through a farmers producer organisation to ensure these inputs are made available on purchase basis.”

On the other hand, the company has also helped the farmers in these two districts in getting market access to their produce in the ongoing harvesting season.

“This (second) wave came right in the middle of the harvesting season. The harvesting got impacted.

“Market accessibility was also impacted particularly those who are into perishable commodities like vegetables and fruits. Traders were not coming to mandis because of lockdowns. Farmers were just not able to access transport itself,” Varma said.

HCL Foundation helped about 40,000 farmers by way of providing transport facilities, and has started ramping up collection centres from six to 12 in these two districts, he said.

“We reached out to close to 40,000 farmers. We tried to support all of them,” he added.

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To stop the spread of the disease in these two districts, Varma said the company is ramping up telemedicine centres from three to 13 and mobile clinics from 5 to 11, besides providing COVID-19-care kits and vaccine awareness programmes.

There is a statewide curfew till May 31 in Uttar Pradesh to break the chain of COVID-19 transmission. However, the state government on Sunday decided to relax the curfew from June 1.


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