Following reports that farmers were selling wheat below the minimum support price in absence of sufficient arrangements for procurement,the state government has decided to appoint commission agents. The government will pay a commission of 2.5 per cent to these agents and they will be purchasing wheat from the farmers at the MSP of Rs 1,285 per quintal.
With the government purchase centres in shambles,private traders buy wheat from farmers at low prices and then pass on to the government at MSP. The Bhartiya Kisan Union (BKU) claims that farmers in the state get anything between Rs 800-1,000 per quintal.
Balvinder Kumar,Principal Secretary of Food and Civil Supplies,admitted that there were reports of fleecing the farmers by unscrupulous traders. The state government has,therefore,decided to give commission to private players. Now,there will be competition among them for fair and quick purchase, he said. He also stated that this would increase the pace of procurement.
UP has fixed a target of procuring 42 lakh tonnes of wheat this season. So far,5 lakh tonnes have been purchased. Half a dozen agencies,including the Food and Civil Supplies Department,UP Agro,PCF,and Mandi Parishad,have been assigned the task of procurement. The government claims that 4,680 purchase centres have been set up across the state.
As the purchase season began earlier this month,complaints started pouring. A major crisis erupted in Prabudh Nagar district,where farmers lined up tractors to take their produce to Karnal foodgrain market in Haryana,but the Haryana government refused to let them in. The farmers preferred Haryana because of the excellent arrangements there and a bonus of Rs 100 per quintal,besides the MSP.
The crisis was averted on Friday when the district administration of Prabudh Nagar held talks with Bhartiya Kisan Union (BKU). We have been promised that 19,800 quintals pf wheat will be purchased at 22 centres. If they fail,we will start an agitation, said BKU leader Rakesh Tikait.
There are complaints that many of the purchase centre exist only on paper. In Kannauj,there is little wheat procurement by official agencies in Chibramau area that produces maximum wheat in the district. The purchase centres of Sadhan Sahkari Samiti did not purchase a single grain,nor did the Food and Civil Supplies Department. SDM Ram Bahadur Verma,however,claimed that wheat purchase had not picked up because the harvestsing has been delayed.
In Badaun,the constituency of SP MP Dharmendra Yadav,several complaints of underpricing of wheat by private businessmen were received. Farmers even boycotted the Wazirganj Mandi in Badaun,against alleged highhandedness of officials.
In Auraiya,the government has set up 81 purchase centres,but half of them have not made any purchases. Deputy Regional Marketing Officer B R Chaturvedi claimed that harvesting is still in progress and farmers were stocking their produce.
At Bahraich,DM Kinjal Singh was shocked to see the state of purchase centre at Mahsi in the district. Warnings were issued to the officials at the centres and Kinjal deputed Lekhpals to contact farmers and inform them about the arrangements.
At a PCF purchase centre in Sant Kabir Nagar,DM Rajesh Kumar was surprised to see that there were no gunny bags,nor cash for making payment to farmers. At another centre managed by UP Agro,the staff had purchased 180 quintals from a farmer with a land holding of only 1.25 acres,which clearly reflected fudging of records.