Even as the official procurement season has now been on for four days, government lifting has been tepid. Commission agents from the three grain markets ----- Kotkapura, Jaitu and Faridkot claim that that no gunny bags or officials from any government agency have approached them so far.
This has led to a fall in paddy prices by up to Rs 50 over the previous rates of the PR 111 variety.
The government has failed to allot rice mills to the procurement agencies to stock paddy for milling. A reason for this is perhaps the millers' refusal to accept stock for milling, unless their demands are met.
"We are holding a state-level meeting of rice mill owners at Jalandhar. We have some issues to sort out with the government," said Harpal Singh Sandhu, president, Rice Mills Association, Faridkot.
"The government has been asking us to pay a levy, which is about Rs 6 crore in Faridkot district, since 2007-08. Ten per cent of the security amount deposited each rice mill owner is deducted every year by the government. The rent for wooden crates has not been paid to us. The government has also held some unduly recoveries against us and our accounts are not being cleared. These demands should be met immediately for smooth procurement."
"The non-allotment of the rice mills is a major problem. The procurement cannot proceed unless this is done, or we will have to be very slow," said a commission agent, wishing not to be named.
"Exporters or private traders who were earlier procuring PR111 variety have also slowed down the procurement. We are now getting Rs 1,450 per quintal instead of the usual Rs 1,400 a quintal," said Ashok Goel, general secretary of Ahartiya association, Kotkpaura.
"If the procurement doe not pick up, there will a glut with varieties such as PR 122 and 121, PR 114,116 etc reaching the market," Sanjay Mittal, joint secretary of Ahartiya association Kotkapura.
"I am being offered Rs 1,280 for a non-recommended variety which we have to grow only due to the very bad water," said a farmer Malkit Singh from Wander Jatana.
"There has been no purchase in grain market Faridkot also on the second day again," said a commission agent from Faridkot.
"Only PR 111 is being procured by private traders, no government agency has approached us."
Of the 113 rice mills in the district, 27 are defaulters.
"The millers did not submit their files with us in time, so the process has been delayed. There are also some technical problems on which discussion is on," said Jaspreet Singh Kahlon, Faridkot food and supplies controller.
"Our system is in place and procurement is being made as per the laid down norms. However, farmers are bringing produce with higher moisture content, which is a problem for the immediate procurement," said Mohammad Tayab, Faridkot DC.