Fear of more rain gets farmers jittery amid delayed wheat procurement in Chandigarh
Over a week after procurement of wheat was begun at the New Grain Market in Sector 39, farmers are complaining that labour trouble along with other issues posed by the epidemic is affecting procurement at the mandi this year.
As per mandi officials, close to 10,000 tonne wheat had been procured by the end of April, while this year, only 4,750 tonne wheat has been procured.
Surjit Singh from Mohali district said many farmers have been affected as procurement was delayed this year. He said, “There were heavier rains this April as compared to previous years and due to delays in procuring it, some of our crop was damaged. No labour was available for harvesting so the process took place at a slow pace.”
Jagdeep Singh from Mohali district said due to curfew restrictions they could not get adequate number of trucks in the city to transport their wheat. “We can take only a limited amount of wheat to the mandi at one go, which puts the rest of our stock at risk. The Zirakpur and Kurali mandis are too far so I have to come to Sector 39 mandi to sell my grain,” he said.
Speaking about this, mandi officials said, “This year procurement began very late and is likely to extend till the first week of May. We are hopeful a similar quantity of wheat can be procured this year too.”
However, farmers are not so optimistic. They say rain has already damaged some of the crop, and if it rains again, it will be disastrous.
Some are choosing to come all the way to Chandigarh due to the fewer Covid cases, such as Paramjeet Singh from Fatehgarh Sahib district. “I keep my mask on at all times and maintain distance from labourers working to offload the wheat. Chandigarh has fewer cases and screening is more thorough here so it’s a safer option,” he said.
Gabbar, a daily wage labourer who stays in Mauli Jagran, said most of the workforce had left the city before the curfew, which has resulted in a shortage now. Sunil from Sector 26 said many labourers from Sector 26 were worried because a youth from Bapu Dham Colony recently tested positive. “The administration is providing us meals so some people have decided to wait till the lockdown is lifted before working,” he said.
Many expressed happiness at the Sector 26 mandi getting thoroughly sanitised. Mukesh Kumar from Dadumajra said the mandi looks spotlessly clean and he hopes the practice of sanitisation will be continued.
As per mandi officials about 4,750 tonne of wheat has been procured in the city till now. “Nobody is allowed to enter the mandi without being screened or without a mask. Facilities have been set up here for workers to sanitise their hands,” an official said.