Four days after paddy procurement was supposed to have started from October 1, government procurement agencies have not yet been seen in the markets of the district, with commission agents also claiming that gunny bags also not allegedly being distributed in the district.
The situation has now led to the exploitation of farmers with paddy selling between Rs 1330 and Rs 1405 per quintal, depending upon quality, lower than Minimum Support Price (MSP) of Rs 1400 per quintal.
“With the procurement agencies missing, paddy rates have crashed and farmers are feeling exploited. It is a sad situation when the farmers are facing losses as government officials are not doing their work,” said a commission agent from Kotkapura grain market wishing not to be named.
“Officially, the members of the market committees are claiming that paddy is being sold at Rs 1,401 per quintal as procurement less than MSP cannot be made. If any official cares to inspect, it will definitely be found that most procurement till now is at Rs 1401 per quintal,” said another commission agent wishing not to be named.
“I have sold my produce at Rs 1,365 per quintal and the quantity left is going for even lower rates. Private buyers demand the paddy at their own prices and find faults with the produce,” said Malkit Singh, a farmer from Sikhanwala village.
“Even PR 111, one of the better varieties of paddy, has to be sold at Rs 1,380 as no buyer wants to offer anything above it. Besides the falling rates, the theft of the produce has also become common at the Kotkapura grain market. There are many groups of children and women who do not allow the farmers to even turn a back to his produce and run away by stealing the produce,” said Devinder Singh, a farmer from Deviwala village.
When contacted, deputy commissioner Faridkot Mohammad Tayyab said: “The procurement was slow on Friday due to Dussehra. However, we have now completed all arrangements.”
District food and supply controller (DFSC) Faridkot Jaspreet Singh Kahlon did not take calls and also did not respond to text messages informing him of the issue.
However, another senior officer associated with procurement claimed the delay was due to state-wide strike by rice millers, demanding that the permissible moisture content in rice be increased to 15%.