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Farmers in Mansa let down at rural procurement centres, forced to travel to cities to sell produce

This HT reporter travelled to two villages, Makha Chehlan and Anoopgarh, to find 500 farmers here, complaining bitterly about the state government.

punjab Updated: Oct 29, 2017 11:38 IST
Mohammad Ghazali
Mohammad Ghazali
Hindustan Times, Mansa
Punjab farmers,Punjab news,Mansa farmers
Labourers at work at the mandi in Makha Chehlan village in Mansa district.(HT Photo)

Farmers in Mansa district have already been in considerable distress due to crop damage resulting from unfavourable weather and pest-fly attack. What is adding to their woes is the state government’s failure to ensure that their paddy produce is procured from their villages. The poor farmer is harassed all across the district as the designated authorities or officials that are to purchase their crop remains absent from duty.

With no government official from any of the five procurement agencies there to supervise the process, private rice millers have a field day.

This HT reporter travelled to two villages, Makha Chehlan and Anoopgarh, to find 500 farmers here, complaining bitterly about the state government.

The designated purchase inspector for the two villages and the Bhikhi town, a person named Ravi, from the Punjab Agro Industries Corporation Limited (PAICL), has been irregular, farmers claimed.

To escape fleecing, farmers travelling to urban market

“The rice miller harasses us and demands extra bags of rice from us to purchase our crop. The purchase inspector remains away from the grain markets and in his absence we are tortured in the name of measuring moisture content in our produce,” said Jiwan Singh from Anoopgarh village.

Many other farmers second him. Other farmers alleged that to escape the money lenders and sell their produce, they travel to grain markets in the urban areas of the district, where they get better price.

This, however, entails extra expense as from these villages, the urban markets entail a to-and-fro travel of at least 50-km.

For a farmer, this is like choosing between a rock and a hard place.

“From our field, we have to travel to the grain markets and from there we have to hire another vehicle to reach the grain market in cities. Braving accident, security and other issues, we travel to the grain market risking everything,” said another farmer while loading his grain onto the tractor.

Farmers claimed that one such trip with the cost of overnight stay usually costs them Rs 5,000.

High moisture content in the paddy crop has also added to the worries of farmers.

“The permissible moisture content is around 17 units but the rice millers return our produce raising the issue of high moisture despite this being approved by the purchasing inspector of the food procurement agencies,” said Amarjeet Singh from Makha Chehlan village.

District president of BKU (Ugrahan) Ram Singh met the DC and raised the issue of harassment meted out to farmers. “We discussed as how the purchasing inspector and private rice millers are hand-in-glove harassing and stalling the lifting of paddy from grain markets in rural areas,” said Ram.

When contacted, PAICL manager Balwinder Pal Singh rubbished the claim that farmers were harassed and instead commended the lifting procedure being supervised by the agency. “Our purchase inspector has been supervising all the grain markets allotted to our agency and we have not allowed private millers to harass farmers.”

First Published: Oct 29, 2017 11:38 IST