Caught between paddy procurement season and the evacuation orders of the government, farmers in border districts of Punjab are panicky if their produce will be purchased at all or not.
However, in an effort to put them at ease, the district administration of Fazilka has started a bulk SMS system to update the farmers about the ongoing mandi activities and paddy procurement process.
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On Wednesday, the administration sent out SMSes to almost 40,000 farmers after getting their phone numbers from agriculture department and Punjab Mandi Board. The SMSes assure the farmers that their produce will be purchased by the administration irrespective of the tension at the borders. Starting with a salutation, “Kisan Veeran Nu Appeal (An appeal to our farmer brothers)”, one of the messages read, “Sarkaar vallon jhoney da daana daana kharideya jawega, kisaan kisi kaalhi vich gilley jhoney di kataai na karan’. (Government will purchase every single grain of yours, farmers are requested not to harvest moist paddy in any haste). “
Another one said, “Farmers are requested not to bring paddy with more than 17% moisture content to the mandis. Moisture content will be measured at the entrance gate of mandis and those with more than 17 per cent moisture content will be sent back.’ The Fazilka administration has also circulated a helpline number through bulk SMSes, asking farmers facing any issues during paddy procurement to call on 01638-260400.
Speaking to The Indian Express, Fazilka deputy commissioner Isha Kalia said “this is an initiative to lessen panic among farmers in the border district”. “Due to evacuation orders, farmers were worried if their produce will be purchased or not. So we decided to answer those questions through bulk SMS system,” Kalia said.