Though the paddy transplantation is likely to start next month, the payment for last year's basmati produce has not yet reached the grain markets, leaving the commission agents and farmers red-faced.
With the shortage of funds commission agents are finding it difficult to meet the demands of the farmers, who need money to sow new crop.
Commission agents said that the government procurement agencies had made the payments of the parmal varieties (moti), but the payment of basmati (long grain) varieties is pending with private rice traders, who are citing fall in prices in the international market as the reason for non-payment.
Commission agents are not ready to disclose the names of the private traders, who have failed to make payments, as most of them are big basmati rice exporters of the country.
"Yes the payment of basmati has not reached though more than eight months have passed since the grain was procured," said Satish Kumar, a commission agent at Rohtak grain market. "Though, we had to made payments to the farmers from our own resources, we are waiting for the purchasers to release our payment as we cannot wait for long," he added.
"Payments to some commission agents are in crores," said another commission agent Devdutt adding, "We cannot delay the payment to farmers as they need money for sowing of the next round of crops."
The condition of the small grain markets is even worse, as the commission agents in these grain markets don't have huge incomes. "My payment of Rs 40 lakh is pending with the private traders and for the delay they will not pay us any interest but we have to pay interest to the farmers," said Paras Ram, a commission agent at Kathura purchase centre in Sonepat district.
Not only commission agents, the farmers too are becoming victims to the delay. "We have to deposit term loans on time to take benefit of the 3% rebate in interest for timely payment, but with lack of funds, the commission agents are not able to pay us," said Satyawrat, a farmer from Gohana.
As per commission agents, payments of around Rs 15 crore is pending at the Rohtak grain market alone and similar is the condition of other grain markets in the state.
WEAK INTERNATIONAL DEMAND
"We are not delaying the payment deliberately. Last year's purchase had caused huge loss to the exporters. For instance, prices of Basmati varietes like Pusa 1121, Moochal and 1509 are still below Rs 2,000 per quintal, against our cost of purchase Rs 2,500-Rs 2,700 per quintal besides the charges of transportation, storage and labour," said an official of a Trawari-based rice export company.
Traders say that declining prices of Indian basmati in international markets, particularly Gulf countries, was leading to the loss.
The commission agents and exporters are of the view that the prices of basmati may fall further this year since the old rice could not be exported.
"Due to this the exporters will not be able to purchase the new stock," said commission agent Gurdev Singh of Ladwa (Kurukshetra) grain market.
The prices of basmati common and Pusa 1121 variety are around Rs 5,500-6,100 and Rs 4,700-5,700 per quintal respectively down from around Rs 8,000-Rs 9,000 per quintal last year.
Similar is the case of basmati (paddy) - the crop sold by farmers - with traders saying that prices will be around Rs 2,000 per quintal in the next procurement season.