Four days since the start of the paddy procurement season, government procurement agencies are still missing at most places, leaving farmers with no option but to sell to private agents.
After getting numerous complaints from farmers, Mandi board chairman and Bharti Kisan Union (Lakhowal) president Ajmer Singh Lakhowal today took up the matter with Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal. Health Minister Surjit Kumar Jayani went to the mandis of Fazilka to make sure that government agencies start purchasing paddy. The agencies purchased 154 metric ton paddy today.
Regarding the delay on the part of procurement agencies such as PUNSUP, Punjab Agro, FCI, Jayani said, “I myself went to the mandis and got procurement started, and 81 procurement centres have been established in Fazilka. Our duty is to get the work started and I have done that.” About 6.07 lakh metric ton paddy and basmati arrived in various mandis across the state till today, which is 2 per cent more than last year. Of this, 3.94 lakh ton is basmati. According to Mandi board records, 5.98 lakh metric ton has been purchased, the majority by private firms.
Sukhdev Singh Kokri Kalan, general secretary of BKU (Ugrahan), told The Indian Express, “We cannot see government purchase agencies in mandis. Private shellers are purchasing paddy below MSP (Rs 1400) from farmers and those who have compulsions are selling it below Rs 1400 per quintal. I could not find a single government procurer in Moga, Bathinda, Ludhiana, Ferozepur, Faridkot.”
Farmers are selling basmati at low rates compared to last year. The price of basmati was Rs 2000 per quintal while a few varieties were sold out in the range of Rs 2400-2800 per quintal compared to previous year’s price of not less than Rs 3500 per quintal.
Basmati, however, is not controlled by MSP and hence its prices are determined by demand and supply.