Harvesting of paddy has started in Haryana, but the farmers are worried as there are no takers of their produce at the minimum support price (MSP) yet.
The Centre has fixed the MSP for parmal varieties of paddy, but government agencies have not started paddy procurement in the grain markets of the state.
Private traders are making the most of the helplessness of farmers, who are being forced to sell their produce at Rs 1,200 to Rs 1,250 per quintal against the MSP of Rs 1,510 fixed by the government.
“I had to dispose of the produce of my three acres at Rs 1,240 per quintal to private traders as there was no government agency to procure paddy on the MSP,” said a visibly upset farmer, Rajesh Kamboj, after selling his produce at Radaur grain market in Yamunanagar district.
He said the produce had earned only Rs 32,000 per acre for which the production cost is around Rs 13,000 per acre.
Agitated over peasants’ plight, farmer leaders are demanding advancement of paddy procurement by about 10 days, from October 1 to September 20.
“Farmers are being looted by private traders as government agencies have not started procurement at the MSP yet”, Bhartiya Kisan Union (Mann) state president Ratan Mann said. “We have decided to hold protests to force the government to advance paddy procurement by its agencies.”
The government has fixed June 15 to start transplantation of paddy, but farmers contend that most of the varieties sown by them take 90 days to mature and are ready for harvest by September 15.
But government agencies start procurement of paddy from October 1. This helps private traders who purchase the produce from the farmers below MSP and sell it on the MSP when the government agencies start procurement.
The problem with the farmers is that they cannot store paddy for 15 to 20 days as they have to prepare fields for the other crops.
“Our demand is genuine. As the government agencies are bound to procure paddy, why don’t they start it from September 15 and thereby prevent farmers’ loss,” Mann said.
However, officials in the state food and supplies department said paddy procurement will start from October 1 and they cannot advance the process.
INLD slams govt
Meanwhile, the Indian National Lok Dal (INLD) accused the BJP government in the state of deliberately delaying the procurement of paddy to benefit private traders.