At a time when the government is emphasising on the need to promote diversification of crops and asking farmers to sow more maize across the state, maize growers in the district are a worried lot these days as they are getting low prices for their crop as compared to last year. The farmers complained that they had sown maize on larger tracts of land this time and got a bumper crop but are not getting adequate prices.
They also blamed the cloudy weather in the region as a result of which their crop was not getting proper sunshine for drying and moist grain does not get them good prices in the market.
On the other hand, commission agents claimed that the maize crop was also being supplied from Bihar this time, which is another reason for low rate of the local produce.
Baljeet Singh, a farmer form Madara village, said he had cultivated maize on 30 acres of land at his village to get better rate this year but the situation was totally different now.
"Last year, the crop was sold at Rs. 1,300-1,400 per quintal in this market. But no one offered me even Rs. 800 a quintal this time," Baljeet added.
He said the cloudy weather had added to their worry since the crop was still moist.
"The dry crop is getting Rs. 1,000-1,100 which is really sad and the government should announce minimum support price (MSP) so that we do not feel betrayed," he added.
Surjeet Singh of Jandusingha claimed that he had been coming to the market for two days to sell his produce but failed to even get the cost of production.
He said he cultivated maize on 20 acres and even got a good yield. "I was very optimistic about getting a good price in the market. But I am getting only Rs. 800-900 compared Rs. 1,200-1,300 last year.
Arhtiya association chairman Harjit Singh Kalra said, "We are also receiving supply of maize from Bihar. Since there is a bumper crop there also, the crop is not getting good prices this time."
Kalra said the crop was still moist and in the absence of maize dryer facility the prices were less compared to last year.
Chief agriculture officer Swatantra Kumar Aeri said, "Due to wet conditions, maize is not getting good price at grain markets. As the government has sanctioned a dryer plant in Bhogpur, it will start working soon. The crop will fetch good rates thereafter."
Punjab agriculture minister Tota Singh was unavailable for comments.
The agriculture department statistics reveal that the area under maize crop was around 11,700 hectares in 2013 while the same was 8,000 in 2012. In 2014, the department's target was to cover 18,000 hectares of land under maize cultivation in Adampur, Bhogpur, Goraya, Jalandhar East, Jalandhar West, Lohian, Nakodar, Nurmahal, Phillaur and Shahkot blocks.