Moist paddy leaves farmers high and dry - Mandi Gobindgarh News

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Thursday, November 7, 2019

Moist paddy leaves farmers high and dry

Moist paddy leaves farmers high and dry

Kulwinder Sandhu
Tribune News Service
Moga, November 6

Paddy farmers in the state are caught between quality standards for procurement set by the Food Corporation of India (FCI) and state procurement agencies. Hundreds of tonnes of foodgrain are lying in grain markets across the state, while more than 15 per cent is yet to be harvested owing to change in climatic conditions resulting into high-moisture content in grains.

The procurement agencies are unwilling to purchase paddy beyond the level of 17 per cent moisture content in grains. The farmers complained that the moisture content had increased due to the sudden dip in mercury and lack of proper sunlight, which had been reduced by prevailing smog in the region.

“Nobody looks at why farmers are facing the hardships? We are suffering a decline in the paddy yield by about 15 quintals per hectare, facing hardships in purchase of the food grains by procurement agencies, distress sale in the hands private purchasers (rice millers), the ire of the state government over burning of paddy stubble and above all delay in sowing of wheat and other crops,” said Ranjit Singh, a farmer of Moga.

After talking to a cross-section of the farmers, it came to light that farmers were facing a lot of hardships during the current paddy procurement season.

At the ground level, there have been reports of distress sales made in the course of this ongoing procurement season by farmers to private dealers, particularly rice millers. Such sales are rarely registered with the mandi authorities.

In Moga, private dealers/rice millers are duping farmers on the pretext of high moisture content by paying lesser rates below the MSP announced by the Union Government. They are also evading market fee and rural development fund.

An arhtiya in Baghapurana town of the district purchased more than 35,000 bags of paddy without paying the market fee and RDF and transferred these foodgrains to his rice mill located on the Lande-Bhaloor road. On a tip-off, a team of Pungrain raided the rice mill and found the unaccounted stock of paddy. The rice mill was sealed for the time being and internal investigations were in progress by the procurement agency. However, no criminal case has been registered against the tax evaders.

The sudden dip in mercury by the third quarter of October increased the moisture content in grains. The FCI and state procurement agencies insisted on the strict enforcement of quality control regulations. By the end of October, the stocks of paddy were building up and the reports of distress sales began to come in from many parts of the state.

“No one seems willing to make the decisions needed to address the real problem of farmers. In larger sense, one has to understand the basic problems of farmers and frame policies accordingly, which benefit farmers as well as the nation,” said Sukhdev Singh Kokri, general secretary, BKU (Ekta).

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