The inclement weather and showers on Thursday and Friday affected straw-making by straw reapers as the wheat residue got moistened.
Many straw reapers and workers engaged in straw-making for about a week had to wait for second consecutive day on Friday.
"The inclement weather is creating problems for us for we cannot keep up with our schedule and those who have given us orders are in a hurry. Had the work not stopped, we could have made about 30 trollies of straw in two days. Due to too many straw reapers available nowadays, people have choice. We have to spend considerable amount on straw reapers and all other equipment," said Bhola Singh, a straw reaper owner from a Kotkapura village.
Most farmers are not interested in getting too much straw made as straw rates have been comparatively lower in the last two years. "I have got only six trollies of straw made for my personal needs to feed three animals, there is hardly any profit in getting the straw made if you have to hire straw reapers," said Sukhmander Singh, a farmer from Sarawan village.
"It was profitable for straw reaper owners around 15 years ago as there were very few straw reapers available," said Charanjeet Singh, a farmer who owns a straw reaper.
"I bought a straw reaper for Rs. 65,000 in 1998; now it costs about Rs. 2.35 lakh. I earned about Rs. 1.5 lakh during the first season. Fifteen years ago, when the input costs were low, I charged Rs. 400 per trolley, but now input costs have shot up and straw reaper operators get just Rs. 600 per trolley, so I have stopped giving straw reaper on rent. I rather buy acres of wheat residue and sell straw after making it by using my machine for Rs. 1,500 per trolley, and it gives me a profit of Rs. 800," said Charanjeet Singh from Kothe Ber village near Kotkapura.
"Property rates have gone up in the last decade and it has become virtually impossible for farming community to buy even a small piece of land. So most of the farmers are buying more and more agriculture machinery as they have no other option left of adding up to their shrinking incomes," said Amarjeet Singh, a progressive farmer from Bargari village.
The last two years' rates have discouraged many farmers not to stock the wheat straw for sale later.
"In 2011 and 2012, the straw rates have been mostly around 150 to 200 per quintal and at these rates, the farmers see little profit. In 2010, the rates had touched Rs. 400 per quintal leading to huge storage by farmers. Many farmers or straw reaper owners had bought wheat residue at Rs. 1,000 to 1,300 per acre two years ago, but this year there is hardly any taker for wheat straw residue. It is easily available at Rs. 300 per acre," said Sukhmander Singh from Sarawan village.
However, some farmers are still expecting that the rates will go up this year. "I have bought about 100 acres of wheat residue to make straw to stock it as this way I will be able to recover my expenses," said Bhola Singh.
The current straw rates are Rs. 170 per quintal for the stock that is being bought from the fields directly.