Heaps of wheat could be seen in the grain markets of the district as food agencies failed to lift more than 50% of the total procurement in the region.
Even though the agencies officially procured 5.17 lakh metric tonnes (MT) of the total arrival of 5.47 lakh MT across 113 grain markets in the district, the authorities failed to lift more than 2.68 lakh MT till last evening, as per the official figures.
District food supply officer (DFSO) Amandeep Singh said that “the wheat arrival has suddenly increased in the past few days, but we are trying to sort out the problem.
“As per procurement norms, it is mandatory for the procuring agencies to lift the crop within 72 hours of the purchase to avoid a glut-like condition at the purchasing centres,” he added. The crop's moisture level should not exceed 12% as per the procurement norms and the excess in moisture also became the reason for delay in lifting or procurement at a few places, he added.
The beleaguered farmers in many 'mandis' were seen complaining against "apathy of the officials" in the procurement process as they waited for over 2 days for their crop to be lifted.
“The grain market is full with the 'bardana' (bags) and heaps of grains lying in open, and there is no space for our crop here," lamented a hapless farmer Hardeep Singh at Jandoke village 'mandi' near Muktsar, adding that he would be exploring another 'mandi' now.
“I am using the tarpaulin to protect the crop due to cloudy weather” said another grower Baljeet Singh who kept patience for 3 days to sell his produce. “Captain de raaj ch v ohi haal hai kujh nahi badlya” (similar situation continues in the Captain's regime too, nothing has changed), said another peasant as they discussed procurement blues. The commission agents also complained of slow lifting and payments.
A similar situation prevailed in several other 'mandis', including Khokhar, Bariwala, Vattu and Mrarkala.