Shillong: A ‘short duration discussion’ on the plight of farmers in Meghalaya took place in the Meghalaya Legislative Assembly on Thursday with Mawsynram MLA HM Shangpliang drawing attention to the losses suffered by farmers in the state and derailment of several livelihood in the last one year.

Being the worst hit sectors owing to the COVID-19 pandemic, MLA HM Shangpliang  said the government had assured the farmers that markets would be opened for them in the suburbs but no such markets were open.

Already losing on their earnings and finding it a challenge to survive, the farmers face regular harassment at the hands of police while transporting their produce without passes, the MLA added.

“The government was nowhere when the farmers needed it the most,” he said, asking the state government to come up with a farmer-centric budget.

Echoing similar views, Ampati MLA Miani D Shira said the usual supply chain was affected during the pandemic and most farmers were forced to sell their produce at throwaway prices.

Opposition Chief whip PT Sawkmie also slammed Agriculture Minister Banteidor Lyngdoh, asking him to take matters seriously.

Several other MLAs also participated in the and asked the government to take necessary measures for the welfare of farmers.

In his reply, Chief Minister Conrad K Sangma admitted that the last one-and-half year has been a difficult phase for everyone due to COVID. He said the government has constituted an economic task force and even started a re-start mission to ensure that the economy is revived.

Informing the House that the agriculture department has initiated identification of alternative markets for the benefits of the farmers, the CM said the government effectively used 1,917 items for evacuation of produce and the team made 700 trips for lifting 750 mt of farm produce.

The fleet as of now has 20-30 pickup vehicles and the government plans to  increase it to 250-300, the CM added.

He also said that in May, 2,184 mt vegetables have been supplied to the neighbouring states of Meghalaya and Assam. In June, the state supplied 2234 mt of vegetables and  67 mt of fruits to its neighbouring states.

The Chief Minister also informed the House that around 20 new prefabricated markets will be constructed throughout the state including at Saipung, Laitkroh, Mylliem, Thadlaskein and other areas in 6-8 months and that these markets will be run by the farmers themselves.

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