Tall claims of the district authorities of foolproof arrangements for smooth procurement of crops at the grain market of Kotkapura notwithstanding, farmers are facing all types of difficulties at the market ranging from the menace of stray cattle, that feed on their produce, badly broken roads, pilferage by outsiders etc. Besides, farmers are also unhappy at the low rates they are getting for their produce as basmati is selling at much lower rate and there is no taker for PR 111 paddy variety so far.
Worries and sadness are writ large on the faces of the farmers, who had brought basmati or paddy to sell in the grain market.
“I brought my paddy PR 111 on Friday, but there is no buyer for it so far. It has been properly dried and cleaned and I have learnt that buyers want it around Rs 1,250 to Rs 1,300 per quintal against the MSP of Rs 1,450 per quintal,” said Bikkar Singh, 75, from Dhab Guru Ki village of Faridkot district.
“The fear of stray cattle feeding on the heap and pilferage forced me to keep awake all the night,” he said.
Asked if he is ready to sell the produce at this price, “We have worked hard for six months and now how can I afford to sell it at a throwaway price,” Bikkar Singh said.
The same is the story of Rachpal Singh from Mrar Kalan village of Muktsar district, who transported PR 111 to the grain market on Saturday. ”I had to harvest the crop as it was fully mature and brought to the market as I could not keep it at home. But, the traders are offer less than Rs 1,300 saying that even basmati 1509 is selling at this rate.”
“The procurement by government agencies is yet to begin,” said Rashpal Singh.
The story of the farmers with basamti 1509 is more disappointing.
“We had grown Basamti 1509 on two acres each, but we sold it at Rs 1,370 today. Last year, we had sold it at Rs 2,300 per quintal,” said Gurjivan Singh and Gurpreet Singh from Khemuana village of Bathinda at the grain market, Kotkapura.
They claim to have spent Rs 11,000 to 12,000 on tilling the soil and transplantation, buying half a bag of DAP, three bags of urea, fungicides and insecticides. We shall hardly be able to earn Rs 26,000 per acre at this price,” they said.
Gurpreet has 10-acre land and taken another 20 acres on annual lease for Rs 50,000 per acre. ”Basmati is earning little, two acres of cotton have been destroyed, so what shall we earn? Ours is a big family as my grandfathers are still living together. Agriculture is totally finished,” Gurpreet said.
Gurjivan says that they are three brothers living jointly and have 20 acres of land, out of which 2 acres of cotton is finished and basmati is equal to nothing.
Basmati rice is selling at Rs 4,500 per quintal against around Rs 5,200 last year.
“Like farmers, we are also suffering this year waiting for some work in the grain market. Last year, we had got work after September 15, but this year, we are yet to get work as there is little activity in the grain market so far. If procurement begins, the farmers would start bringing the produce and things would move,” said Binder Singh and Gora Singh, activists of the labour union in the grain market of Kotkapura.
“It has been decided at the government level that basmati 1509 would be purchased from October 1. So, we appeal to the farmers not to bring their produce before this date. Besides, I also appeal to paddy farmers to bring only dry produce,” said Kulbir Singh Matta, district mandi officer, Faridkot.