The Vice President of India, M Venkaiah Naidu today asked the Centre and State Governments to accord top priority to farmers and agriculture during the lockdown and advised them to facilitate the smooth conduct of farming activities and transportation of agri-produce during this period.During an interaction with the Union Agriculture Minister, Shri Narendra Singh Tomar at Upa-Rashtrapati Bhawan today, the Vice President appreciated various measures taken by the Agriculture Ministry to protect the farm sector. He wanted the interests of both producers and consumers to be safeguarded.“Producers in agriculture are not organized and often their views go unheard. So, it is the duty of the governments to protect their interests”, Shri Naidu said. Though it is mainly the duty of the States, the Center should guide and help them from time to time in this regard, he added.Calling for more focus on perishable agro-produce such as fruits and vegetables, the Vice President said that special care must be taken of storage & marketing of these perishables. He also suggested tweaking of the APMC Act suitably so as to facilitate the purchase of farm produce directly from the farmers so that nobody is forced to go to Mandi. This will help in ensuring adequate availability of fruits, vegetables and other agri-commodities to the consumers, Shri Naidu said.Emphasizing the need to ensure smooth transportation of farm produce the Vice President asked the authorities to ensure that there is no hindrance during such transportation. Highlighting the current harvest season, he also called for free movement of farm machinery and equipment.The Agriculture Minister explained in detail the steps taken to safeguard the interests of the farmers. Shri Tomar said that Union Agriculture Ministry is working in close coordination with the States/UTs for this and assured the Vice President that the Government will take all necessary steps to help the farmers in this hour of crises.