Other States

Not quite a fair deal for farmers

Seamless procurement ensuring Minimum Support Price (MSP) and timely payment have been the major challenges for the Haryana government during the harvesting season year after year.

However this year, the task is even bigger amid the ongoing farmers’ agitation seeking legal guarantee for MSP; the fear of discontinuation of the “mandi system” in the wake of the three farm laws looming large over the farming community and a sense of “resentment” against the ruling regime.

Much before the inception of the procurement season for wheat on April 1 this year, Deputy Chief Minister Dushyant Chautala announced that the government would aim at transferring money directly to the accounts of the farmers within 48 hours. Chief Minister Manohar Lal too, following a meeting with the officials concerned, assured to pay 9% interest in case of delayed payments.

Govt.’s false promises

However, these announcements seem to remain “empty promises” for many farmers at new grains market in Sohna here.

Giriraj Singh, a young farmer from Nuh’s Bhirawati village, sold over 300 quintals of wheat to separate commission agents 10 days ago, but he is yet to get the money. In an urgent need of money for his niece’s wedding,

Giriraj has borrowed a few thousand from the arthiya (commission agent). “The government was quick to send me a text message for my turn to sell off the produce but the wait for the message from the bank [about the amount to be credited] seems endless,” he quips.

Timely payment matters

Dharambir, who runs Ganga Prasad-Hiralal commission firm, quickly reads through his “bahee khaata” (ledger account) to claim that none of over a dozen farmers, who sold off their wheat through him since the beginning of the procurement season, had got the money.

He said that farmers were getting the promised MSP, but timely payment mattered the most. He says that, unlike other commission agents in the mandi, around two dozen in number, he was not scared to call “a spade a spade” and seeking basic amenities for farmers and labourers at the mandi for a long time.

“The toilets are dirty. There is no arrangement for water and light. The problem of waterlogging is perennial every monsoon and the less said the better about sanitation. Repeated complaints have been to the market committee, the Deputy Commissioner and even at the CM Window system, but there has been no action,” an angry Dharambir says.

Though Gaya Prasad (42) gives a big thumbs up to the present regime for streamlining the procurement system over the years, he recalls how he would have to spend several nights at the mandi to wait for his turn, but now he received a text message on his mobile informing him about his turn.

Against farmers’ stir

“It is hassle free. It just takes a few hours now,” he says. He also claims that earlier, it took 15-20 days for payments, but this year he had received the payment for a procurement made just three days ago. He discredits the farmers movement on the Delhi borders being “politically motivated”, but supports the demand for MSP. He does farming on around 20-acre land taken on lease, but finds it difficult to make both ends meet. “It is difficult to survive for a farmer without a guarantee for a minimum price,” says Prasad.

Though Sohna mandi caters to around 60 villages in its vicinity, the farmers in the area prefer to go to bigger mandis in Nuh. More than 53,000 quintals of wheat has already been procured at the mandi till April 15, and as per the estimates of market committee secretary Krishan Kumar, another 15,000 quintals is expected to reach in a week’s time before the culmination of the procurement process.

Movement regulation

Mr. Kumar informs that 1,640 farmers have registered under “Meri Fasal, Mera Byora” scheme, adding that registration was now almost cent per cent in the State. He, however, argues that restricting the number of farmers reaching the mandis every day was “impractical”.

“It is difficult for the farmers to store the crop at home after harvesting. They prefer to come straight to the market to sell it off. It is not pragmatic to regulate their movement. The government too realised this and the Chief Minister announced to allow farmers to come out-of-turn,” says Mr. Kumar.

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Printable version | May 6, 2021 11:58:58 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/other-states/not-quite-a-fair-deal-for-farmers/article34347310.ece

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