Have hoarders created artificial scarcity of seeds only to sell them at inflated rates?

Red gram sowing in Kalaburagi is under way as there is enough stock of seeds, says Deputy Director of Agriculture, Kalaburagi, Anasuya M.H.  

Agriculture Minister B.C. Patil asserted at a press conference in Bengaluru about a week ago that there is no shortage of either sowing seeds or fertilizer for kharif season in the State. And, the authorities in the local Agriculture and Horticulture departments have been maintaining the same position.

On the same day, farmers who thronged the Horticulture Department in Ballari for purchasing chilli seeds were lathi-charged and dispersed as shortage of seeds created a chaotic situation. Though a video clip showing police personnel using their lathis to disperse the crowd went viral, the Deputy Director of Horticulture said that it was not a lathi-charge per se but the policemen raised their lathis only to disperse the mob of farmers.

A few days later, farmers in Aurad taluk in Bidar district who tried to purchase soyabean seeds in vain eventually dragged an officer at a local Raita Samparka Kendra out of his office and tied him up to the gate to vent their anger.

Bidar has received good rainfall and farmers have prepared their land for soyabean cultivation. However, many of them have not been able to get sowing seeds on time.

“No Raita Samparka Kendra in our area has sowing seeds that farmers demand. After desperately visiting some Raita Samparka Kendras, I purchased seeds in the black market paying exorbitant prices. There was no other way, as we could not afford to lose a season. I purchased soyabean at ₹3,500 a bag of 30 kg against ₹2200 MRP, green gram at ₹1,500 a bag of 5 kg against the original price of ₹500, black gram at ₹1,400 a bag of 5 kg against original price of ₹350, maize at ₹1,200 a bag of 5 kg against original price of ₹400 and red gram at ₹900 a bag of 5 kg against a subsidised price of ₹450,” Sunil Srimanth Kotre, a farmer from Bhosga village in Kalaburagi district, told The Hindu.

State honorary president of Karnataka Rajya Raitha Sangha Chamarasa Malipatil blamed the State government for allowing what he called a “chaotic situation” as hoarders have created an artificial scarcity and are selling seeds at unreasonably inflated rates.

“The State government has failed to ensure adequate stock of sowing seeds before the onset of monsoon. Now, farmers have prepared their land for sowing and seeds are not available. No Raita Samparka Kendra in Ballari, Koppal and Raichur districts has Syngenta 5531 variety of chilli seeds which farmers are demanding. But the same seeds are being sold at three times the original rate in the black market,” Mr. Malipatil said.

Hoarding of sowing seeds and selling them at exorbitant rates in the black market is, in fact, not something that emerged all of a sudden. Ballari administration received a number of complaints of chilli seeds being sold in black. The issue was raised and debated in a review meeting chaired by Rural Development and Panchayat Raj Minister K.S. Eshwarappa in Ballari earlier this month. The Minister, then, instantly sent Vigilance Squad members out of the meeting asking them to conduct random raids and bring illegal hoarders to justice and ensure adequate supply of seeds to farmers in need. Yet, the situation remains the same even after 15 days of action taken.

The cap on the amount of seeds to be distributed to a farmer through Raita Samparka Kendra is also causing a problem. As per information provided by Deputy Director of Agriculture, Kalaburagi, Anasuya M.H., each farmer is provided with seeds required for only five acres of land.

“If a farmer demands two quintals of seeds to sow in his large tracts of land, we cannot fulfil it. And, farmers have to choose any one crop for cultivation. If a farmer has already bought green gram, we don’t give him other seeds. Sowing of green gram and black gram has already been completed. Red gram sowing is under way and we have enough stock,” she said.

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Printable version | Jul 27, 2021 9:08:41 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/karnataka/have-hoarders-created-artificial-scarcity-of-seeds-only-to-sell-them-at-inflated-rates/article34890085.ece

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