ALLEGING THAT private companies are exploiting and hurting the interests of farmers, poultry farmers in Punjab have reminded Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh of the promises made by the Congress in its pre-poll manifesto. Poultry farmers alleged that private companies were selling broiler chickens in the open market without processing or value addition, in direct competition with small farmers but also cheating the farmers involved in contractual farming by paying them less. Also, farmers said they were being made to sign contracts that are written in English, a language not understood by many of them and also scrapped without notice, leaving them in debt.
Farmers involved in poultry and broiler farming are planning to meet the CM and urge him to fulfill the promises that were made in the manifesto. The Congress had promised that it would regulate all kinds of contracts of the farmers and safeguard their interests. Setting up of a fully equipped pathology and nutrition laboratory for poultry farmers was also promised in the manifesto. Sukhminder Singh of Independent Poultry Association said they would seek an appointment with the CM to apprise him of the gross violation of Punjab Contract Farming Act, 2013 being done by the private companies.
“The contract farming was allowed with a condition that companies will do value addition and processing before selling their products in open market. But companies are not doing any value addition but selling raw and unprocessed broiler chickens in market in direct competition with the farmers. They are even selling it at low prices which is leading to losses of farmers and they are left debt-ridden.”
The farmers have urged the government to strictly enforce Punjab Contract Farming Act, 2013 and take action against companies who are ‘duping’ farmers. “The companies cannot leave farmers who construct sheds and arrange other infrastructure for the chickens provided by the companies to be raised and fed. But the companies are preparing unilateral contracts favoring them and in the language which is not understood by the farmers. Once chicks are raised, farmers are paid very less and they are left in midway without any notice. Ultimately, they are left debt-ridden,” said Sanjay Sharma, a poultry farm owner.
In complete violation of the Act, there is no government check on the private companies to see if they are following chick quality norms, feed quality, medicines, vaccination, disinfection norms, animal welfare norms, pathogens and disease management among others. With the expansion of the Cabinet still pending, CM Captain Amarinder Singh himself holds the portfolio of animal husbandry. A senior official from the department said, “Many issues are pending for discussing including contractual poultry farming but due to busy schedule of the CM, they are pending since months. We have a list of private companies that are violating contractual farming norms in Punjab but we need CM’s nod to speed up action against them and cancel their licenses.”
What Congress said in its manifesto n The Congress government will promote private sector investment for creating beneficial value chain from farm to fork, mandatory investment in infrastructure at various levels of value chain, processing, cold storage facilities will be ensured prior to allowing access to farms, thereby creating new domestic and export markets to ultimately improve farmers income.
Regulate all kinds of contracts of farmers to safeguard their interests and and save them from any potential exploitation through appropriate statutory mechanism which will have adequate representation of the farmers. n Establish a well-equipped pathology and nutrition laboratory for sustainable, healthy, scientific and profitable poultry farming across the state.