Even as the arrival of paddy has started in full swing in the state, but due to alleged high moisture content in the grain, the farmers in various mandis are getting Rs 100 to 200 per quintal less price against the announced Minimum Support Price (MSP) by the government. Claiming that every year they are being paid less on the pretext of high moisture content, the farmers said that procurement agencies and arhtiyas (commission agents) creates such perception to loot them.
With the Assembly polls around the corner, the state government has assured that there is smooth lifting of the crop. Till October 16, around 44. 90 lakh tonnes paddy had already arrived in the grain markets and all the procurements agencies including PUNGRAIN, PUNSUP, MARKFET, WHAREHOUSE and FCI have been lifting the grain quite early this time. Till Sunday, 42.92 lakh tonnes was already purchased from the mandis.
Details procured from the Punjab Mandi Board (PMB) revealed that farmers were being paid even Rs 1,310 per quintal in various mandis of the state while the MSP per quintal announced by the Centre was Rs 1,470 per quintal and Rs 1,510 per quintal respectively for normal and ‘Grade A’ paddy crop.
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PMB Chariman Ajmer Singh Lakhowal said that farmers must be given the announced MSP for their crop by the government and that they will be taking up the matter with it to increase the moisture percentage upto 21 per cent against 17 per cent.
Jagtar Singh, a farmer hailing from Jamsher village informed that he had brought his 300 quintal crop to the mandi three days back but both ‘arhtiyas and procurement agencies’ didn’t show any interest to purchase them on the pretext that the crop was containing high moisture. “They just wanted to purchase it at a lesser price. They wanted to delay the purchase so that I sell it at the rate they wanted,” he said.
Alleging that the arhtiyas and the government agencies are hand-in-gloves, another farmer of Nurpur village said,
“This is a complete nexus between arhtiyas and government agencies to fill their pockets at the cost of farmers’ loss.”
Sources in the procurement agencies too said that though they are not ready to procure the high moisture content crop but they need to follow the instructions of the government. As per the instructions, the lifting of the crop must be done within 48 to 72 hour after paddy procurement in the grain markets and a cut has been imposed on the high moisture crop only.
“Farmers are not being paid the MSP of their crop in several grain markets of Malwa belt including Banur, Mansa, Faridkot, Abohar among others on the pretext of high moisture content,” said Jagmohan Singh Dakaunda, general secretary of Bhartiya Kisan Union (Dakaunda) adding that on an average, farmers were being paid at least Rs 100 per quintal lesser than the MSP of the crop.
He urged the state government to discuss the matter with the Centre as it holds the right to give relaxation to various states in matters relating to moisture content