Wheat sowing in Punjab was impacted because of the demonetisation of old currency with growers claiming they were unable to buy seeds and other inputs due to “cash crunch”. Punjab agriculture department has also acknowledged that the wheat sowing trailed by five percent because of scrapping of old denomination notes. Problems for farmers also compounded as they were unable to get finance from cooperative banks in the wake of non-acceptance of Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 denomination notes by these banks.
“Definitely, there is an impact on wheat sowing due to demonetisation of old notes. The impact so far is to an extent of 5 per cent,” Punjab Agriculture department, Director J S Bains said on Saturday. Wheat sowing has been completed on 85 per cent of total targeted area so far, which is 5 per cent less than what it was during corresponding period of last season, he said. Director said that delay in sowing could also lead to reduction in overall productivity of winter crop.He said wheat sowing should complete by November 15. “Sowing after November 15 can lead to decline of 1.5 quintals per acre per week in wheat yield,” he said. Punjab grows wheat over 35 lakh hectares of area.
Describing the decision of the government to scrap old notes as “ill-timed”, Bhartiya Kisan Union (Ugrahan) general secretary Sukhdev Singh said farmers in Punjab are worried a lot as they are facing “cash crunch”.”We do not have money to buy seeds, fertilizers etc for sowing. How will they complete the sowing,” he asked adding that it could hit the overall production of wheat crop in the state. He further said that farmers were unable to repay their loans taken from cooperative banks as these institutions were not accepting old notes.
With farmers complaining of delay in sowing, Punjab government has drawn an attention of the Centre to allow District Central Cooperative Banks (DCCBs) to participate in the implementation of the scheme on par with other ‘Banks’ defined under Banking Regulation Act, 1949. In a letter written to Union Minister Arun Jaitley, Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal pointed out that DCCBs were not allowed to accept old denomination notes as deposits from their customers and were also not authorized to exchange such notes.
In view of the non-repayment of existing loans of farmers due to non-acceptance of demonetised notes by DCCBs, farmers were unable to avail the agri-credit required for sowing of Rabi crop, Badal said, adding that it has brought the business of the Cooperative Banks to a complete standstill. DCCBs provide banking to nearly 10 lakh farmers apart from other general public, who have been approaching the branches of DCCBs for re-payment of their agriculture loans with the SBNs (specified bank notes) of Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 denomination.