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Tuesday, June 02, 2020

Arhtiyas end strike, join wheat procurement operations in mandis

Haryana Additional Chief Secretary Sanjeev Kaushal said that 3.58 lakh metric tonnes (MT) of wheat was procured from little over than 42,000 farmers on Thursday.

Written by Sukhbir Siwach | Published: April 24, 2020 1:56:07 am
The arhtiyas wanted that they should be allowed to invite the farmers to sell their produce as per their mutual convenience.

After a three-day stir, the arhtiyas (commission agents) resumed work in most of the grain markets of Haryana from Thursday. Officials engaged in wheat procurement across the state said that they don’t have any report of strike by arhtiyas from anywhere in Haryana Thursday. A significant section of arhtiyas was on strike for the past three days.

Haryana Additional Chief Secretary Sanjeev Kaushal said that 3.58 lakh metric tonnes (MT) of wheat was procured from little over than 42,000 farmers on Thursday. The government had started wheat procurement from April 20 but the procurement could not take place at many mandis of the state in first three days. Amid growing pressure from the opposition, the government was making all efforts to woo the arhtiyas before it snowballed into a major issue. Senior officials Wednesday, through video conferencing, held a meeting with the representatives of the arhtiyas and succeeded in resolving the matter.

Agreement that ended the stir

Initially, government officials were sending messages to the farmers asking them to bring their produces to the mandis as per their registration on the government portal. The arhtiyas wanted that they should be allowed to invite the farmers to sell their produce as per their mutual convenience. The government has agreed for the same. “80 per cent farmers will be scheduled as per the priority fixed by the arhtiyas.,” mentions an order issued by Haryana State Agricultural Marketing Board on Wednesday. The scheduling for the remaining 20 per cent farmers, who are not attached to arhtiyas, will be done by the market committees. The arhtiyas also wanted assurance that they should get opportunity to purchase at least as much wheat as they procured during previous season. Sources said that they got an assurance from the government in this regard too.

Major issue resolved

As per the prevalent system in Haryana mandis, the arhtiyas procure wheat from the farmers for government agencies and get a commission from the government for this exercise. The payment to the farmers is also made through the arhtiyas. Now, according to Haryana officials, the central government wants crops’ payment directly to the accounts of farmers to avoid their exploitation. This system has already been started in case of procurement of mustard and bajra. From this season, the government had tried to introduce this system for the procurement of wheat too. But the arhtiyas said that they won’t able to recover the advance money given to the farmers if entire payment is made directly to the bank accounts of farmers. Amid strong opposition by the arhtiyas, the government agreed to allow deduction of their advance money before making payment to the farmers. “Now, the government will make payment in our accounts and we will further make the payment to farmers,” said Ram Avtar Tayal, a spokesperson of Haryana State Anaj Mandi Arhtiya Association. According to officials, the government wants that the arhtiyas give in writing the final settlement between them and the farmers. An official claim that the arhtiyas did not want to give such undertaking initially but finally they agreed for the same.

Relief for farmers

The farmers will be relaxed with the wheat procurement in Haryana mandis following the end of arhtiyas stir. They were upset with the hurdles they faced during the wheat procurement because of arhtiyas’s stir during this season. Other conditions like compulsory registration of crops on government web portal ‘Meri Fasal, Mera Byora’ also irritated them. However, a significant number of farmers were silent too because they feel that the arhtiyas won’t able to pressurise them to clear their dues if the payment is made to their bank accounts directly. Many farmers also feel that this is a battle between the arhtiyas and government. On the other hand, the Haryana Bhartiya Kisan Union president Gurnam Singh Chaduni feels that the government may have hidden agenda in making the payment to the farmers’ accounts directly. “By this way, the government may start deducting the cooperative bank loans from farmers’ accounts at the time of crop procurement. We have heard that a state has already deducted the loan amount from farmers’ accounts by this way,” says Chaduni.

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