Ten days after procurement started, government agencies are yet to buy the crop in any substantial quantity at the grain markets in the district.
Of the arrival of 1,63,261 metric tonnes till Wednesday, the agencies have procured only 32,422 MT (less than 20%). Private traders have procured the most at about 1,44,882 MT.
The tepid government procurement has also pushed the prices down, even below the MSP. PR 111, a popular variety, has been procured at Rs. 1,345 per quintal. Other varieties are selling between Rs. 1,250 and Rs. 1,310 per quintal.
Most farmers, who had opted for PR 122 this year, the latest variety released by the Punjab Agricultural University, Ludhiana, have been waiting for the procurement by government agencies to start in earnest.
"I have been camping at the Kotkapura grain market for over 10 days now with my seven acres of produce. I had sown PR 121 and 122, the latest varieties. Private traders are offering me a lower price than the MSP," said Jagmohan Singh, a farmer from Mann Singh Wala, near Sadiq.
Jagmohan claimed that some farmers had already sold their crop at Rs. 1,250 a quintal in the absence of any government procurement.
"The procurement in Kotkapura grain market is negligible. It started a week late and is now too slow. The crop is being sold at Rs. 1,250 to Rs. 1,350 per quintal against the MSP of Rs. 1,345," said Ashok Kumar Goel, general secretary of Arahtiya Association, Kotkapura.
"The official version on the slow procurement is that the crop has higher than permissible moisture content, at 17%. However, the rice millers are not ready to lift the stock for milling. This is the real reason for the tepid procurement," claimed a commission agent.
Allotment of rice mills in Jaitu is yet to be completed and only 17 rice mills could be allotted of the 37 in Kotkapura, due to technical reasons.
"There is no problem. Some farmers have brought crop with moisture content higher than the norm. The allotment of the rice mills has been delayed as some of them did not submit the required papers in time. I have asked the district food and supplies controller to complete the allotment. It will be done soon," said Faridkot deputy commissioner Mohammad Tayyab.
However, the farmers and the commission agents have claimed that the moisture content was not likely to go down due to the weather and soon there could be a glut in the markets, if procurement did not begin at full speed soon.