The Punjab agriculture department has launched a campaign to make farmers aware of their rights as consumer.
The awareness campaign is running alongside the department’s campaign to check the sale of sub-standard seeds, fertilisers and insecticides/weedicides to the farmers by private dealers or firms.
The farmers are being educated on the benefits of having in their possession a sale receipt or bill for the commodity that they have purchased from the market.
“We are telling the farmers that with a sale receipt in hand, they can take a private dealer to a consumer court for selling spurious seeds or fertilisers. We are telling the farmers to ask for a bill or sale receipt for every commodity they purchase,” stated Amritsar chief agriculture officer (CAO) Paramjit Singh Sandhu.
Talking to Hindustan Times here on Tuesday, Sandhu said: “The farmers are being told that as consumers they have the right to take a person to court for the sale of sub-standard seeds or fertilisers to them. If farmers start taking the help of consumer courts, a private dealer will not dare to sell a sub-standard commodity to them.”
The CAO pointed out that a few years back a farmer of the district was awarded damages to the tune of Rs 10 lakh after a private firm sold a sub-standard insecticide to him. After using the spray, the farmer’s entire crop got withered away and he immediately approached a consumer court as he had all sale documents with him, he added.
Though the agriculture department had in the past advised farmers to ask for bills for every purchase made, but with the start of the rabi season this year, a campaign was initiated in the state on this front.
It started with special teams of the agriculture department, both at the district and state levels, checking samples of the wheat seeds that were being sold in the market. A total of 107 samples were taken from dealers in Amritsar district by several checking teams, of which 13 samples were listed as 'failed' after a laboratory test.
Fortunately for the farmers, none of them had purchased the seeds that had failed the test. “We are telling the farmers that now with the Seed Act in force, they can easily take a dealer to court provided they have a sale receipt that indicates that they have purchased a sub-standard seed. The court will ask us for our findings and we will present the laboratory test report,” said Sandhu.
Other than checking of wheat seeds, the agriculture department also carried out checks on fertilisers. Luckily for farmers out of the 139 samples only two were listed spurious after testing.
Currently, the agriculture officials are not only busy collecting samples of insecticides/ weedicides, but also telling farmers to keep sale receipts in their possession till the end of the rabi season.
A total of 122 samples have been collected and sent for testing to the laboratory at Punjab Agricultural University (PAU) thus far.