THOUGH 37,000 metric tonnes paddy (parmal non-Basmati) arrived in Punjab’s grain markets in the past two days, the Punjab government had procured merely 3,590 metric tonnes (9 per cent) till Sunday. Moreover, no farmers whose grains had been procured by government agencies were seen receiving payments because Cash Credit Limit (CCL) is yet to be sanctioned by the Centre.
The government has advanced procurement of paddy by five days. The official date of paddy procurement had previously always been October 1, because majority paddy crop starts arriving in mandis only after October 9-10.
The government has been making all-out efforts to placate farmers, who are on the warpath against the Centre farm Bills.
In a related development, Punjab Chief Minister Capt Amarinder Singh has also invited leaders of farmers’ organisations for a meeting on Tuesday.
The Punjab government has already notified 4,030 mandis for this paddy procurement season. A total of 15,000 and 22,040 metric tonnes of paddy arrived in the mandis on Saturday and Sunday respectively. The procurement was done in seven districts — Amritsar, Ropar, Ludhiana, Tarn Taran, Jalandhar, Patiala and Gurdaspur.
Due to Covid-19, passes are being issued to farmers to bring their grain to markets. Seven colour-coded passes are being issued for seven days so everyone comes to the mandi on their turn.
The MSP of the paddy is Rs 1,888 per quintal.
Punjab Food and Civil Supplies Minister Bharat Bhushan Ashu said, “Farmers will get payment as soon as there are only procedural delays in the CCL as it will be sanctioned in the coming couple of days, following which payment of the farmers will be made. He added that they are making all Covid-related arrangements at mandis as in majority districts, the crop will start coming in few days.
Meanwhile, farmers at some mandis said their crop may not be procured for the next couple of days because arhtiyas told them the crop contains moisture at the moment and needs to be dried in mandi premises for a few days.
“I brought around 60 quintals paddy of my one-hectare land yesterday but my arhtiya told me to dry it for the next couple of days, only then it will be procured. Now I have to sit here for two days.,” said farmer Gurdeep Singh at the Tarn Taran mandi, adding that he has to harvest the crop on remaining two acres next week because that has not ripened yet.
There were several farmers in Tarn Taran, Khanna and Amritsar mandis whose crop had not dried properly and they will have to wait in mandis only.
Bhartiya Kisan Union (BKU) Ekta Dakaunda General Secretary, Jagmohan Singh, said, “When majority of the crop will not be ready for harvesting for the next 10 days, what was the point of starting early procurement? As the government does not have money to make payments to farmers, those who are selling their crop today will not get the money for the next several days”.
He further said, “The Centre is trying to get farmers on their side by adopting such tactics but at the same time it got consent for its bills from the President. It intentions towards the farmers are quite clear.” Jagmohan said that was an attempt to divert the attention of farmers from their movement, but farmers are now united and will not relent till their demands are met.
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