High moisture content in paddy worries Punjab farmers, commission agents
High moisture content in paddy produce arriving at procurement centres across Punjab has become a matter of concern for farmers and arhtiyas (commission agents) this kharif marketing season.
The moisture content in the grain is being recorded from 18-20% against the permissible limit of 17%, officials said. In Amloh sub-division of Fatehgarh Sahib district, the state food and civil supplies department barred 13 commission agents from the procurement process after they allowed purchase of paddy with a moisture content over permissible limit. The agriculture department said harvesting of an unripe crop was the main reason behind high moisture in the grain.
But the farmers blamed inclement weather conditions and late sowing of paddy for the problem. Punjab Arhtiya Association general secretary Harjeet Singh said the procurement agencies were harassing both farmers and commission agents on the pretext of high moisture content.
“The farmers who brought paddy with high moisture are not being allowed to dry their produce in the grain markets. Moreover, the department and procurement agencies resort to stringent action if commission agents are found unloading such produce in the market,” said Singh.
This is for the first time that moisture level has become such a big trouble for every stakeholder, he claimed.
Manjit Singh of the Bhartiya Kisan Union (Ugrahan) said it is really difficult for farmers to bring down moisture level in the grain due to suddenly drop in temperatures in morning and evening hours. “The bulk of produce is yet to reach the grain markets as the harvesting has started picking pace. In the coming days, the problem of moisture level will multiply. The central government and procurement agencies should increase the permissible limit of moisture content,” he said.
In such a situation, farmers have no choice but to resort to distress selling and they end up getting rates far below the minimum support price (MSP), he said.
Patiala chief agriculture officer Jaswinder Pal Singh Grewal said, “We are asking farmers not to harvest the crop till it matures adequately.”
New specifications irk farmers, millers
Also, the new quality specifications issued by the central government for procurement of paddy have irked rice millers and farmers in Punjab.
According to the new specifications, stricter quality control measures have been put in place for the millers as broken grain percentage has been reduced to 20% from the earlier 25%. Moreover, the moisture content in rice to be accepted from millers has also been reduced from 15% to 14%. The damaged grain percentage has been brought down from 3% to 2%, while red grains, which earlier had 3% limit, will not be accepted.
In case of paddy unloaded at grain markets, the permissible limit of foreign matter (organic and inorganic) has been lowered from 2% to 1%. The percentage of discoloured, sprouted and damaged grain has been reduced from 5% to 3%.