Uncertain weather predictions and fear of rain lashing the state in the coming days have worried the farmers, with some of them resorting to ‘panic harvest’ of the wheat crop, which could have done with a couple of more days of sunshine in the fields.
The panic among farmers is clearly evident from the figures of wheat arrival at local Bhagatwala grain market on Thursday.
Since the start of the procurement season till now, 27,160 quintals of wheat have arrived at Bhagatwala market, while the wheat arrival for the same period last year was just 5,970 quintals.
Due to inclement weather conditions, wheat harvesting was delayed last year as well as this year. However, this year, the current wheat arrival should have been less than the last year, as there was more rain this year in comparison to the previous year. But this has not happened as weather predictions for the coming days are weighing heavily on the minds of the growers, which was not the case last year as a clear weather with bright sunshine was predicted for the latter half of April.
“Despite our appeal, farmers are resorting to panic harvest as they fear if it rains now their yield will fall further. This does not mean they are cutting unripe wheat. They are harvesting ripened wheat, but the grains are high in moisture content. A couple of more days in the sunshine would have dried the grain properly,” explained Amritsar chief agriculture officer (CAO) Balwinder Singh Chinna.
This is not all, immediately after harvesting, farmers are packing their grain into trolleys and dispatching these to their nearest grain markets. Chinna has advised the farmers that after harvesting, they should spread their grain out in the sunshine for drying for two-three days, and then bring it to the market.
Waiting in ‘mandis’
However, growers like Amandeep Singh of Bhoru village are not heading to any such advice and has brought his crop to Bhagatwala. For two days, he has been waiting for procurement agencies or private buyers to purchase his produce, but no one has come forward.
“While no ‘sarkari’ agency official has come to even look at my grains, an ‘arhtiya’ (commission agent) did see my grain and left without saying anything,” he said without being aware that the arhtiya has spread the word in the mandi that his wheat grain has very high moisture content.
Harjit Singh of Kasel village drove his tractor-trolley into the mandi on Wednesday. Twenty-four hours have passed, but he continues to wait for someone to come forward to purchase his wheat. He harvested his crop due to fears of rain in the coming days, which could have further lowered his yield.
“I have no space at home for drying the crop, so I brought it here with the hope that it will be purchased. I know the grain has moistures, but I took the risk of cutting the crop as there are predictions of rain in the coming days,” said Harjit Singh, while pointing out that the unseasonal rain and hail had not only damaged his crop but has also led to fall in yield.
Joginder Singh of Naushera Dhalla and Kulwinder Singh of the Dera Baba Nanak area in Gurdaspur district, too, harvested their crop before it had fully dried-up, as they too are not sure of the weather for the coming days. The result is that no one has come forward to purchase the grain.
Joginder Singh said a private trader offered him `1,300 per quintal against the Minimum Support Price (MSP) of `1,450 per quintal. All the four farmers and many others at the Bhagatwala market reported that grain quality had suffered due to the weather and there was a fall of yield.
These farmers had a yield of around 21-22 quintals per acre last year, which has fallen to 18-19 quintals per acre this year.
Due to the high moisture content in the grains, there has not been much purchase. Out of the total arrival of 27,160 quintals, a mere 417 quintals have been purchased and that too by private traders.
In comparison, last year, over 5,000 quintals of the 5,970 quintals that had arrived at Bhagatwala was procured.