Even four days after the Centre's relaxing paddy's standards for procurement, the order has failed to reach the grain markets, and farmers have zero benefit.
Since even the district headquarters of the state procurement agencies are yet to receive their copies of the order, their officials don't know whether to give or hold the relaxation. Also confused about the extent of the relaxation, they are using their own different interpretations of the order.
When confronted, state procurement agency PUNSUP's district manager Jasbir Singh said the letter was yet to reach his office. "It might have got delayed because of (Diwali) holidays," he said.
Officials of the procurement agencies and the mandi board said without written orders through proper channel, they couldn't help farmers. HT has a copy of the Centre's order that relaxed discolouration percentage from 4 to 7 and the damage percentage from 4 to 5.
Officials' own calculation puts the price after relaxation at Rs. 1,238 per quintal, "a second MSP", as they call it, but they are not giving it to farmers, just like the previous minimum support price. Anyway, the relaxation will benefit only the farmers who sold their crop on November 1 or after. Even farmers who sold about 49,000 metric tonnes of paddy between November 1 and 5 didn't get any relaxation, and were forced to sell their produce below the MSP.
Reports from the mandi board suggest that paddy was sold for between Rs. 800 and Rs. 1,345 per quintal, the latter being the MSP. "The relaxation is eyewash," said a farmer. The season is only up to next week, and by the end of which, 2-lakh MT paddy is expected to arrive at the grain markets in the district. While the granaries are full, farmers' purses are empty.
Markfed's district manager Ramandeep Singh said the letter had not reached him as well and it might have been sent to the agency's senior officials in Chandigarh. Asked to react, Karunesh Sharma, deputy director of food supply in Jalandhar, said the state government had raised the matter with the Centre and within a day, it expected a positive development.