TAD NewsDesk, Chandigarh: After the announcement of the Haryana government to procure paddy directly from farmers on September 27 at a Minimum Support Price (MSP), the agricultural produce market committee (APMC) mandis in Haryana are in a tumultuous situation. Freshly cut paddy is entering the market in bulk but little is leaving the mandis.
The Union government procured 44,809 million tonnes (MT) paddy from Punjab and Haryana through September 30 out of which only 3,506 MT was procured from Haryana.
Farmers have been bereaved of large scale buyers and are forced to take their total output to the APMC mandis. The crops are already on the verge of getting spoilt, complained the farmer. Usually, the crops get sold within 24 hours of bringing to the mandis.
Before this setup, the millers used to buy the crops on behalf of the government agencies such as:
- Food Corporation of India (FCI)
- Haryana State Co-operative Supply and Marketing Federation Ltd (HAFED)
- Haryana Food and Civil Supplies Department
- Haryana State Warehousing Corporation
The new arrangement however has created problems for both the millers and the farmers. The Arthiyas (commission agents) and rice millers have been staging protests in various mandis in opposition to the government’s decision.
The government officials are rejecting crops on the basis of very petty and unaccountable reasons which according to the farmers is unjust.
Harish Bhatia, a medium range farmer said,
“A government inspector came to check the crop on September 27 and rejected it saying it has 22 per cent moisture content. I am eager to sell my crop, so I asked them to cut from the MSP for excess moisture, but he didn’t budge. It’s just an excuse. We don’t have any facility or space to dry our paddy or keep the moisture in check,”
He also added that earlier the millers used to buy the crops at a negotiated price and used to dry it themselves. “But this time, government officials have been citing high moisture content and not buying the crops,” he said. He has been in the mandi since the past 1 week without any success.
Narwair Singh from Karnal’s Gonder village said the farmers are even being “harassed” by the officers.
The government has increased the allowed limit for the moisture content to 19% after vehement protests by the farmers. But a demand to rise it to 22% is still in call.
Some of the Strategic issues which have come up is:
- Problem of transportation
- Management of labourers
- Arrangement of gunny bags
- Information regarding the procedure after selling the produce
- Ignorance of the Arthiyas from the APMC mandi system chain
- No flexibility in the time frame to bring the paddy to the mandis
Millers have strongly condemned this move by the government. The livelihoods of millers and Arthiyas have not at all taken in account for. They are ready to continue the protests until their voices are heard. Rajinder Raheja, a member of Rice Millers Association, Karnal said,
“We get 62-64 kg of rice out of 100 kg. We are also supporting the Arthiyas’ demands of the millers lifting the crop from the mandis instead of the government. Till these are met, we won’t allow the government to drop the lifted crop in our mills.”