Mohan Yadav and his family members have taken it upon themselves to harvest their wheat crop on three bighas of land at Rahimpur Ganga riverine belt of Khagaria. He wants to keep his wheat – the annual cash crop of the region – ready for sale.
Sanjay Prasad Singh, another farmer, shows his piled-up sacks of freshly-harvested wheat. Singh, who sends Rs 6,000 every month to his son who studies in a boarding school in Begusarai, said this was for the first time in many years that he had to harvest his crop by himself. “We desperately wait for our annual yield of wheat and maize. Now that I have both ready, the lockdown has spoiled our joy”, said Singh, who owns about 25 bighas of land.
Medium and small farmers alike have been bearing the brunt of the lockdown as local traders are not reaching out to villages to buy wheat. If farmers insist, local traders ask them to transport it to Khagaria town. They also offer only Rs 1,750 per quintal, while wheat farmers got Rs 2,200-2,400 per quintal last year.
Bihar cooperative minister Rana Randhir Singh, however, said: “We have asked farmers to get registered with Primary Agriculture Credit Society that has started buying wheat for Rs 1,925 per quintal. The purchase will continue till 15 July”.
Rahimpur, divided into three panchayats, have about 15,000 small and medium farmers, depending mostly on their single crop in the year, mostly wheat. Farmers can grow either wheat or maize in a year. Rahimpur is part of the vast stretch of Ganga riverine belt. About 5,000 farmers of the area have no income other than annual wheat yield.
Manoj Kumar Singh, a farmer of Rahimpur Pachkhutti, said: “As farmers are not able to sell their wheat or maize, wedding ceremonies are being deferred. This is the peak of marriage season. Absence of transportation is not the only reason but the main reason is farmers not being able to sell their products. Even there are hardly any takers for our green vegetables”.
Manish Kumar Choudhary, another farmer from Rahimpur Charkhutti, added that Khagaria wheat would often be exported to Uttar Pradesh, Haryana and some other states. “There are some 15-20 traders in the district. Under normal circumstances, wheat would be sold straight after preparation. It has become difficult to send money to our wards studying in Patna and Delhi. Some farmers have to borrow. We all pray the lockdown is not extended further”, said Choudhary.
Jay Kumar Choudhary, another farmer, said while his one son could return home, another son is stuck in Patna in the lockdown. “I am sending him money from my savings. I have put all sacks of wheat and maize inside the husk to preserve it. I will sell it once the lockdown is over and I am offered a good price”, said Jay Kumar Choudhary, who has 15 bighas of land.