The government may have scrapped high value notes of the denomination of Rs 500 and Rs 1000, but farmers in some of the agricultural markets in the state are still being forced to accept old notes to tide over the liquidity crunch.
Farmers who go to Pimpalnere in Nashik district to sell tomatoes have been given the option by traders of accepting cheques which can be encashed after two months or payment in old notes.
With sowing for the Rabi season starting, farmers are desperate for money and seem to be willingly accepting old notes. The farmers are either using these notes to buy seeds, which has been allowed by the government, or depositing the cash in their bank accounts.
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“Demonetisation may help the country in the long run but at present it is causing major problems for farmers. Traders here have been asking us to either take cheques that we can encash after two months or giving us money in old notes. The cash crunch during sowing season is forcing farmers to accept these old notes,” said Balaji Pawar, a farmer from Pimpalnere.
There are close to 300 APMCs across the state, which regulate the trade of agricultural produce and and ensure that farmers are not exploited and get a fair price for their produce. While farmers could earlier sell their produce only at APMCs, the Maharashtra government had recently deregulated the market allowing farmers to sell vegetables and fruits anywhere they wanted.
The market at Pimpalnere in Nashik district is one such market that is not a notified APMC but where farmers from close to 20 adjoining villages come to sell their produce. While the transactions at notified APMCs is a lot better and regulated, farmers who come to these deregulated markets are feeling the pinch. “We are forced to accept the money as there is a severe liquidity crunch and there is no point in going to bigger APMCs and spending more money to transport our goods. We are using the old money either to buy seeds or standing in line to deposit the money in our accounts,” said Suryakant Hingne, a farmer from Sakri in Dhule district.
Most farmers said they did not want to complain about this as doing so would lead to the present source of payment drying up too.
“We haven’t complained against the practice because this arrangement is helping us tide over these difficult times. If we complain, this avenue will also shut down. We are hoping that liquidity in the market in the next few days will improve and this practice will stop,” said Pawar.
Traders, meanwhile, claimed that they were willing to make cheque payments but many farmers were hard-pressed for money and demanding cash in any form. “They are desperate for money as it is the sowing season. We are ready to pay by cheque but farmers want cash. The arrangement does not hurt them as the old money can be used to buy seeds and is also being accepted by banks,” said a trader from Dindori who did not wish to be named.
Officials from the agriculture department said they had not received complaints from farmers about such transactions. “We haven’t received any complaints so far. But such transactions are illegal and are a serious offence. We will crack down against such elements,” said an officer in Nashik.