Farmers unable to access maize dryer facility
All promises by the government to provide relief to maize farmers has fallen flat after authorities have failed to run four newly-established maize dryers in the Doaba region even after their timely completion.
Farmers are a harried a lot as they are being forced to dry their crops manually, which takes at least a week or sell their wet crop at a discount.
To motivate farmers to take to diversification of farming and increase the cultivation of maize crop, the government, after spending crores of rupees, has established four maize dryers in the Doaba region including Kapurthala, Fuglana, Nakodar and Bhogpur, but has failed to run these in the harvesting season.
Sources claim the non-use for farmers has resulted after the Delhi based company, which set-up the dryers, has been taking 15 days to test the performance of dryers and for their maintenance.
It had been promised that all the dryers, that came up at a cost of Rs 7-crore on each project, would get going in the beginning of the season of harvest of maize to provide comfort to the farmers in drying their crop, but the season has come to an end and the dryer is still waiting to get started.
However, some authorities have claimed that during the trial period of 15-day they have given an opportunity to the farmers to dry their crop. However, sources added that only some of the private shellers had availed of the benefit.
Davinder Singh, a farmer said it was only after he pulled some strings that he was able to dry 750 quintal of his harvested crop, which had got wet after the sudden showers.
"Big farmers and private shellers are taking benefit from the maize dryer which was meant to facilitate the farmers," he said.
He said that the construction of dryers had been completed in February and it was definitely suspicious that the trails were only being held now, in peak harvesting season.
Sources alleged that the government was giving these maize dryers in private hands of which bids were invited secretly and given to their favourites.
A farmer Jugraj Singh said, "I wanted to take the Bhogpur dryer on lease, but the government gave the project to some other company through the e-tender process. This is wrong. The common man did not even get a chance to participate and the government sold off these assets to people wanting to milk profits."
He alleged that with the monopoly in place, big farmers and private shellers will get an opportunity to dry their crop with dryers again marginalized.
"There should be some option in the contract to give some permanent quota to the small farmers that they can also get the chance to dry their crop," he added.
Bhogpur market committee secretary that after undergoing trials, the company was working to improve the working of the machine.
"After getting the green signal from the government, the project will be thrown open for the farmers," he said.
Punjab Mandi Board secretary Deepinder Singh was not available for comments in spite of repeated attempts.
Marginalising small farmers
"To motivate farmers to take to diversification of farming and increase the cultivation of maize crop, the government, after spending crores of rupees, has set up four maize dryers in the Doaba region including Kapurthala, Fuglana, Nakodar and Bhogpur, but has failed to run these in the harvesting season."
"Authorities claim that the dryers are tested by the manufacturers, but the farmers have termed the timing as 'suspicious',claiming that this was an excuse to hide the fact that some of these projects had been leased out to big farmers and private shellers, again leaving the small farmer to fend for itself."
"However, authorities have claimed that even during the trial and testing period of 15 days for machine, they had given an opportunity to the farmers to dry their crop."
I wanted to take the Bhogpur dryer on lease, but the government gave the project to some other company through the e-tender process. This is wrong. The govt is selling these assets to people wanting to milk profits.
Jugraj Singh, farmer