Labor Shortage Hampers Potato Storage in India
Flight of laborer’s to their homes following the 21-day nationwide lockdown, owing to the COVID-19 pandemic, is taking a toll on loading and unloading of agricultural produce at storage facilities in West Bengal, raising concerns over a possible crisis in the supply chain in near future.
Chief Advisor to the Minister, Pradip Kumar Majumdar, admitted that there is a shortage of laborers at cold storages, as workers’ family members are calling them back owing to the prevailing situation.
“Yes, there is a crisis. But we cannot stop them (from going home). We have asked cold storage owners to talk to the laborers who are working for them and convince them to stay back,” he told news agency PTI.
“We have asked cold storage owners to take all precautionary measures to protect the laborers,” he added. Majumdar said 85 per cent of potatoes produced have been transported to cold storages from fields. With the nationwide lockdown in place, movement of trucks carrying essential commodities is also being hampered owing to the scarcity of laborers and lack of facilities for drivers, according to West Bengal Truck Operators’ Association.
Truckers Association General Secretary Subhas Bose said loading and unloading of vegetables, potatoes, fruits and other items during collection from farms and cold storages are also being adversely affected as most of the laborers have gone home since the West Bengal government announced a lockdown in Kolkata and many other areas.
“We are getting reports from various regions that potatoes are kept on the field. If these are not shifted to cold storage, farmers could face a huge loss and this, in turn, will adversely affect the supply of potatoes to markets. The state and central governments should come up with a mechanism to tackle the situation,” Regional Secretary Amal Halder said.
Bose, the truckers’ body general secretary warned that “The supply chain may get affected if smooth transportation and loading and unloading facilities are not ensured by the governments in different states and the Centre.”