Even as the Union Home Ministry has issued orders allowing inter-State movement of essential goods, including petroleum products, LPG, food products and medical supplies, implementing them remains a tough task.

The manufacturers and processors of essential commodities, including foodgrains, edible oils, dairy products and perishables like fruits and vegetables, are finding movement of goods difficult between States because of sealed borders and frequent checks and alleged harassment by the police and local authorities.

The dairy sector, which has diverse products in demand at different places across country, faces a tough time due to movement disruptions. RG Chandramogan, Chairman, Hatsun Agro, told Businessline that the inter-dependence of States for different commodities such as milk, coffee, tea and grains makes it imperative to allow smooth cross-border movement of goods.

No smooth movement

“Even if we produce certain milk products, we won't be able to transport them to other States. For example North-Eastern States need dairy whitener — which is an essential item for them. And we require Assam tea here in the South. We are inter-dependent on each other,” said Chandramogan adding that highways and its support system need to remain functional for all such essential food items.

On the other hand, sugar mill operators in South Gujarat are facing difficulty in sourcing raw material from neighbouring Rajasthan. “Cross border movement of sulphur and chalk is hampering our supplies, eventually impacting the processing. But we are contacting the government to resolve this issue,” said an office bearer of Bardoli Sugar Mill.

Perishables hit

In Mysuru, vegetable farmers are having a tough time selling their produce as the borders with neighbouring Kerala are closed. The district is one of the largest suppliers of vegetables to Kerala and Tamil Nadu. “Lack of buyers has forced farmers to discard around 200 tonnes of tomatoes today at the APMC,” said Kurubur Shantkumar of RaithaMithra Farmer Producer Company.

The Government has been very responsive to issue orders for including food as well as agri inputs as essential commodities. Now the onus is on local administration to implement the orders, which I am hopeful should get sorted out in the next few days, said Hemendra Mathur, Co-founder Think Ag and Chairman of FICCI Task Force on Agri Start-ups.

Also, to increase the availability of trucks for essential commodities, Mathur suggested that the Government should allow the movement of all trucks, so that the non-essential items are unloaded and they start carrying essential items.

Edible oil supply

Meanwhile, the Solvent Extractors' Association of India (SEA) has also underlined the need to maintain movement of essential commodities, including the edible oils. In a letter to its members, SEA President Atul Chaturvedi said edible oil being ‘an essential commodity’ it’s supply cannot be disrupted as it can have huge repercussions.

He also advised the members to try their best to run the solvent factories and continue despatches.

“We should engage with the local administration and keep them in the loop in whatever we do. Attendance in the factory should be kept at a minimum to ensure smooth operations,” he added advising members to take extra care to maintain social distancing and provide protective gear, sanitisers and thermal checking facilities for employees.