Cash crunch is forcing a section of farmers to sell their produce at a lower rate at Madhya Pradesh’s krishi upaj mandis (agriculture produce markets).
Taking advantage of the situation, some middlemen are allegedly even offering to pay more to farmers if they take payment in demonetised currency.
In Dhar, farmers are allegedly forced to sell their yields at half the prevailing market rate if they insist for payment in cash.
On Saturday, farmers who were accepting cheques were paid Rs 12,000 per quintal for ‘dollar chana’, but those demanding cash were allegedly paid Rs 4,000-6,000 per quintal.
“Encashing cheques now take time. But we have to make immediate payments to labourers and also need cash for purchasing diesel and to pay EMIs for our tractor loans. However, traders are exploiting us,” said Bherulal Patidar, a farmer. He had brought ‘dollar chana’ to the mandi.
Farmers Afzal Patel and Jaiprakash Choudhary also made similar allegations.
Traders, however, refuted the allegations. A trader Dinesh said they were compelled to make payment in cheques as withdrawal limit for the registered traders is increased to just Rs 50,000.
“With that meager amount we cannot buy chana in cash,” he said.
Krishi upaj mandi secretary G K Choudhary said that he would inquire into the complaints and take action if needed.
Businesses at some of the major wholesale markets in MP including Choithram mandi in Indore and red chilli mandi in Khargone is limping along due to severe cash crunch following scrapping of Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 notes.
To tide over the situation, the farmers say, transactions are increasingly being done partly in demonetised currencies and partly in new notes, besides credit.
“In most cases, payments are being made half in new currency notes and half in old currency notes. Lots of commodities are also being supplied on credit,” Mukesh Patidar, a farmer, said.
Traders at Choithram mandi say business there is down by about 50 percent since the Union government’s demonetisation announcement and that is without counting severely hit potato-onion trade.
To keep the vegetable supply chain running, the commission agents, who act as a link between farmers and wholesale traders, are dealing in both scrapped notes and credit.
“While affluent farmers always supply goods on credit, the small farmers need cash for their daily requirements. Today, there is shortage of new currency notes and not all farmers accept cheques,” a commission agent, who did not wish to be named, told HT.
The potato and onion market in Choithram mandi has been closed for the past one week and is expected to reopen on Monday.
Farmers in Bedia in Khargone district, the red chili hub of Madhya Pradesh, are also facing similar problems. “The commission agents are offering about Rs 1,000 per quintal more if farmers accept old currency notes,” said Krishanpal Singh, a farmer.
However, Khargone mandi secretary V K Choudhary said that payments are now being made by cheques and any complaint of exploitation of farmers will be dealt with strictly.