Poplar growers in the region are reeling under crisis due to steep fall in prices of the produce and the government’s alleged apathy to their plight.
As per the information collected from Yamunanagar’s timber market, which is the biggest hub of plywood industry in the northern states, the prices of the poplar have fallen to Rs 200, Rs 350 and Rs 400 per quintal for ‘Sokta’ (below 18-inch girth), Under (18-24 inch) and Over (above 24 inch), respectively, from Rs 800, Rs 1,000 and Rs 1,300.
The poplar growers claim that the root cause behind the fall in prices is the supply of poplar from other states such as Punjab, Uttar Pradesh and Uttarakhand. They allege that the state government has shown complete apathy towards their problem.
“The government is not taking our problem seriously and we are being forced to sell our produce at nominal prices as thousands of farmers of other states are also selling their produce in Yamunanagar,” said Baljesh Singh, a farmer of Yamunanagar district.
“Poplar is like a crop in the low-lying and hilly areas as we cannot sow other crops due to floods and lack of irrigation sources. The government should prepare a price policy for poplar considering it as a crop and fix a price for it,” he demanded.
According to poplar growers, another problem with poplar is that the farmers cannot delay its harvesting as it gets damaged if not felled on time. That’s another reason which forces farmers to sell their produce at prices dictated by the plywood industry, they claim.
However, despite over 50% fall in poplar prices, the prices of plywood remain the same and the owners of the plywood industry are making the most of the helplessness of the farmers.
“Plywood is being sold at the same prices and the fall in poplar prices does not affect plywood prices,” said an employee of a plywood industry while adding that the prices depend on the demand.
When contacted, Sandeep Rana, director of poplar commission agents union, said, “I think the reason behind the fall in prices is increasing supply from other states. The government is also not providing licences for setting up of more units of plywood to increase the demand and prices”.
“As per official figures, there are 400 plywood units in the district and government has provided licences as per poplar acreage in the state. But they do not know that the supply of poplar from the other states is two-three times more than Haryana,” he said.
He added that as per the increased supply of poplar, the number of plywood units should be doubled.
Meanwhile, the poplar growers have threatened to launch an agitation on September 20, if the government will not take steps to stop supply of poplar from other states.