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Hike in seed price: Punjab farmers forced to pay double for spring maize & sunflower seeds

Farmers say that to increase rates, false shortage is being created by the seed dealers.

Written by Anju Agnihotri Chaba | Jalandhar | Updated: February 24, 2017 8:02:03 am
india pakistan border, indo pak border, punjab pakistran border, punjab pakistan, punjab india, punjab evacuation, punjab farming, punjab news, india news Leaving their farms behind at Rajoke village, Amritsar. (Source: Express photo by Rana Simranjit Singh)

THE FARMERS of Punjab, who have been facing one crisis after the other for the past few years, are now facing indiscriminate increase in the rate of seeds of spring maize (February to May) and sunflower crops. In the absence of checks by any government agency, they are ending up paying double the amount to buy seeds for these crops. And, farmers have to depend only on dealers for the spring maize seed because the agriculture department provides the seed for Kharif season maize (June to October) only.

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Farmers said that to increase rates, false shortage is being created by the seed dealers.  Even some farmers’ groups have complained to the district administration and the agriculture department, which has issued instructions to check the availability of seed. Sunflower and spring maize crops are sown in February and March and harvested in June. “We got an agreement with the dealers for getting the spring maize seed at the rate of Rs 1,200-1,400 per 4-kg bag (Rs 300-350 per kg) but farmers are being forced to pay Rs 2,100-2,200 (Rs 550 per kg) for the same quantity now as this will double our production amount,” said farmer Jagat Parkash Singh Gill, secretary of Potato Seed Growers Association (PSGA), adding that they have lodged a complaint with the district administration, too.

He also mentioned that dealers cartlised themselves to create a false shortage of the seed to charge hefty amount from the farmers. Prithpal Singh, another farmer and general secretary of PSGA, said that even the bills and invoice number are not provided by these dealers against the purchase of seed from them. He added that mostly hybrid seed is used for spring maize and that even the rates of the Cucurbit (Musakmelon, Watermelon etc.) has been hiked by the dealers.  “The rate of sunflower seed has also been increased from Rs 1,600 to Rs 2,600-3,000 per bag of four kilos,” said farmers while making a representation.

According to the agriculture department, around 30,000 hectares are ued for the cultivation of spring maize every year mostly in Jalandhar, Hoshiarpur and part of Ludhiana districts. Dr Jasbir Singh Bains, joint director in the agriculture department, informed that they have asked the officials of these districts to check the stock available with the dealers. They have also been asked to send a report on seed availability with the dealers, he added.

Chief Agriculture Officer, Jalandhar, Jugraj Singh, said that according to their report, there is no shortage of seeds of these crops in the market and they have informed their higher-ups about it.  In Jalandhar alone, spring maize is cultivated over 10,000 hectares and sunflower on nearly 1,000 hectares.

The farmers said that most of the potato growers of Doaba region, after harvesting the crop in February-March, switch to cultivating spring maize and sunflower crops, which are three-four months crops only.

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