Due to the alleged failure of government procurement agencies to enter the grain markets of the district, farmers are resorting to distress sale and selling their wheat produce at less than the minimum support price (MSP) to private traders.
About 5,000 to 8,000 bags are reportedly being sold daily in the Kotkapura grain market at Rs 1,400 per quintal against the MSP of Rs 1,450 per quintal.
By Monday evening, only 500 quintals of wheat was procured by government agencies in the district, against lakhs of quintals of wheat lying to be sold in the market.
"There are about 4 lakh bags of wheat lying in the grain market of Koktpaura and at least 50% of them have moisture content within the permissible limits which should have been procured by now to avoid inconvenience to farmers. Besides it, if the agencies have got the gunny bags, these should be distributed to the commission agents," said Ashok Kumar Goyal, general secretary of Arhtia Association, Kotkapura.
"I have been sitting here with my produce, but nobody has approached me to procure it," said Kaku Singh, a farmer from Dhaipai village.
"In the absence of government agencies, private traders are offering only about Rs 1,400 per quintal, Rs 50 less than the MSP, and some of the farmers, after a wait of several days, have chosen to sell it below the MSP now," said Mohinder Singh, a farmer from Khara village.
Another farmer Balvir Singh claimed that he has been waiting for the procurement to begin since Monday last, claiming that his produce has only 11.5% moisture content, but he was being offered Rs 50 less than the MSP and he refused to sell it.
"There is little procurement by this noon. The labour is at the receiving end. If the procurement does not pick up soon, we will go on strike. Despite our request to at least procure the dry produce, nothing has happened so far," said Suba Singh Mann, president of the labour union in the grain market of Kotkapura.
"There is also little procurement in the grain market of Faridkot. Officials of the procurement agencies, who were seen in the market on Monday, claimed that most of the produce has about 14% moisture content, which is above the permissible limit, therefore the produce cannot be procured," said Mohinder Kumar Bansal, cashier, Commission Agents Association, Faridkot.
"Today, I held a meeting of the officials of the procurement agencies and instructed them to visit all the markets. About 155 metric tones of wheat has been procured. The procurement has been delayed due to the higher moisture content and bad weather," said Mohammad Tayyab, deputy commissioner, Faridkot.
"Officials of the procurement agencies reached the markets on Monday. There were some problems that have been sorted out now and the procurement will pick up soon. By evening, there will be enough procurement," said Jaspreet Singh Kahlon, district food and supplies officer, Faridkot.
"The shriveling of the grain and moisture were a problem with the wheat that arrived in the beginning and central teams had taken its sample. It would be procured after we get instructions about it as no purchase can be made flouting the norms," Kahlon added.
Going by it, many farmers may have face the distraught sale on less than MSP as they would not be able to wait for many more days in the grain markets.