Ignorance among farmers and orchardists in Himachal Pradesh about their rights makes them easy prey to arhtiyas or commission agents who often fleece them in various fruit and vegetable markets where they go to sell their produce.
Talking to Hindustan Times, Himachal Pradesh state agriculture marketing board managing director (MD) H S Baweja said that it is a big problem that majority of farmers and orchardists in the state are ignorant about their rights, which makes them easy prey to offenders.
He said that the authorities were constantly trying to create awareness among the people that whenever they sell their produce to commission agents or arhtiyas, they must take the R-form from them on which the rate of the sale of produce is mentioned.
According to Baweja, the commission agents had purchased the produce of tomato from the farmers at the rate of Rs 1 or Rs 2 per kg in Mandi district last month. This forced many farmers to throw their produce in the open, while the price of tomato was between Rs 15 to Rs 20 per kg at that time in other markets, which shows how these agents fleece the farmers.
He said, “We urge the farmers and orchardists in the state to take R-form after sale of their produce from the commission agent or the arhtiya and if any businessmen tries to mislead or deceive the people, the authorities will take stern action against the guilty”.
Regarding the implementation of apple packaging standardisation in Himachal Pradesh, Baweja said, “We are firm to implement it sternly in the state and faulty commission agents or Arhtiyas would be penalised if they will try to incite the farmers not to follow the system”.
At the district-level, the Agriculture Produce Marketing Committees (APMC) are authorised to check the menace and penalise the faulty business men, which will help the authority to implement apple packaging standardisation system in a proper way.
Several people in remote areas of Kullu, especially marginal farmers associated with apple orchards or vegetable production, are disgruntled. They allege that most of the times. they fail to get good return from their produce and find themselves at the mercy of cunning businessmen, who buy their produce at very low prices.