The demonetisation drive has hit farmers of Punjab. Even as the wheat sowing season is upon them, farmers are yet to be paid for their paddy procured last month. Arhtiyas (commission agents) who were to pay them cite the lack of enough currencies for the delay.
The records of the Punjab Agriculture Department revealed that till date, only around 40 to 45 per cent of the 35 lakh hectares, which will be dedicated to wheat this year, have been sown till now. According to Agricultural Development Officer Dr. Naresh Gulati, the best period for sowing wheat is the first twop weeks of November.
“The new currency is being supplied in limited numbers and it cannot meet the farming needs as they need seed, fertilizers,” said Vijay Kalra, president, Punjab Arhtiya Association, adding that farmers had had not received payment for selling paddy in grain markets since October 15-16. He pointed to the currency crunch behind the problem.
“I sold my paddy on October 25 but till date, I could not get payment for the same because money was not released by the government to arhtiyas’ account. Now, with the coming of new currency, the arhtiyas too do not have the money to pay us in advance for purchasing seed and other things,” said Sohan Singh of Kishangarh Village in Jalandhar who needs at least Rs 20,000 immediately to sow wheat. “Sowing season is about to end and if I sow after the season, the yield will be affected at the time of harvesting.”
Another farmer Ajit Singh of Kotli Than village said that he had kept some seed of his own but he needs to purchase more to sow the crop on 20 acres. “It is good step of the government but they should have adequate amount of new currency ready for distribution,” he said.
Punjab government has yet to make around Rs 13,000 crore paddy purchase payments to the farmers which are pending since October 15.
“If we give the old currency notes to the farmers they are not ready to accept those and new notes are in short supply. We cannot meet the demands of all the farmers at the moment,” said Ashok Kumar, another arhtiya from Jalandhar grain market.
“I had some amount in bank but I spent two days in long queues but to no avail as bank did not have enough of the new currency and now I will have to go tomorrow again,” said Paras Ram, another farmer from Lambra village.