Farmers at Kotkapura grain market, especially in the cotton yard near the main market, are a harried lot in the wake of lack of basic facilities. There is no toilet, no drinking water and no shed where farmers can keep their produce to save it from rain and sun.
"There is nothing in the name of facilities," laments Jagseer Singh from Bhana and Surjeet Singh from Sikhan Wala village, sitting under a temporary shed.
The situation in the main market is no better either. There are only four toilets in the whole market spread over about 100 acres. The water taps too are far and few and farmers find it difficult to leave their produce behind unattended in case they wanted to drink water.
Kotkapura grain market is hub of cotton producing farmers.
As per sources, the government charges about 2% market fee and 2% rural development fund, which accounts for about Rs 50 per quintal of wheat. Still, the market committee had failed to provide facilities to the farmers.
"As per government instructions, the bidding for the procurement should occur twice a day-in the morning and evening. But the purchase agency officials generally visit in the evenings while we keep waiting throughout the day," says Mohan Lal Palta, secretary of federation of arhatiya association, Punjab.
"We have received about 52,000 gunny bags on Saturday, which would suffice only for a couple of days," he says.
"If the produce is procured, the bags are unavailable and if the bags are filled, then there is problem of lifting. These problems keep on bothering us," says Sanjay Mittal, joint secretary of arhtiya association, Kotkapura.
The lifting of produce is another problem in the grain market here. The lifting has been given on contract but the contractor has allegedly shifted the responsibility of lifting on arhtiyas with their consent. Because of the labour shortage, the arhtiyas are finding it difficult to carry out unloading, cleaning, filling the bags and then lifting.
"Actually, lifting of the produce is the responsibility of the contractor. But he has shifted his responsibility on us. We are facing labour shortage," said an office-bearer of Kotkapura arhatiya association on the condition of anonymity.
"Had the labour of my commission agent not been engaged in the lifting work, my produce would have been cleaned and sold by now," said a farmer from Nanaksar village.
"We want sufficient supply of gunny bags. Most of the procurement agencies do not have sufficient gunny bags. It is a big problem," said Ashok Kumar Goel, general secretary of Arhtiya Association, Kotkapura.
When contacted, Kulbir Singh Matta, secretary, market committee, Kotapura, admitted that the cotton yard lacked basic facilities. "We are trying to provide more facilities," he added.
Faridkot deputy commissioner Ravi Bhagat said, "I will instruct the market committee officials to provide basic facilities to the farmers."
About gunny bags, he said, "We will have enough bags by the evening. A consignment is reaching us from Kolkata."
"I will personally supervise the procurement process in the district on Sunday and sort out all the problems," he assured.