Farmers are forced to unload their produce of paddy and basmati on the roads adjoining the Bathinda grain market as slow lifting has created issues of lack of space to store the produce.
Increase in the quantity of basmati this season has also created space problems in the grain market. In the 72 acre Bathinda city grain market, only nine acres area is earmarked for loading and unloading of crops with the rest of the area under shops and offices.
Farmers are a harried lot and are complaining about the unavailability of space in the grain market because of which they have to unload their produce on the roads.
Harjeet Singh, a farmer from Tungawali, said, "We had to unload the produce from the tractor on the road because we did not get any space in the mandi. Waiting for someone else's paddy to get lifted would have delayed the whole process."
Higher basmati yield creates problems
Last season, the approximate yield of basmati was 600 metric ton (MT), whereas this time it is approximately 2,000 MT. Basmati is not an MSP crop (minimum selling price) and hence farmers have to wait for buyers to lift their produce.
As more basmati has flooded the market than previous years, it is taking more time to clear the space for fresh arrival.
However, mandi officials claim more than half of the mandi is empty. Harpiyar Singh Brar, Bathinda mandi official said, "There is no problem. More than half of the mandi is empty and farmers can unload their crop anywhere they want."
Roads leading to the grain market are stocked with paddy on both sides, giving stray animals a chance to feast on the crop.
Farmers complain about basmati rates
Gurdit Singh, a Tunagawli village farmer said, "Two years ago, the price of basmati was `3,200 per quintal while last year, the rates were `4,200 per quintal. We were happy with the increased rates, however this time, the rates are worse than ever at `2,200 per quintal."
He added, "The product we sell at about `20 per kg, the private firms will sell the same, after packing in attractive bags, at more than `100 per kg. After paying the middle man and making other expenses, we get nothing."
Rajwinder Singh, a farmer said, "The merchants are not interested in buying the crop, even at low rates. We have to beg them to ask them to buy our crop, otherwise they do not even look at us." He added, "There are other grain markets, such as Amritsar and Kuktsar, where the farmers are getting the right price for their produce. However, Bathinda being the area of the chief minister gets nothing."