They are alleging that a “lack of coordination” between the government departments and the procurement agencies is causing the delay. Farmers in Sitarganj have been protesting for the last five days and they have been now joined hands with the farmer organisations who have warned to intensify their agitation from October 11.
Tejender Singh Virk, president of the Terai Kisan Mahasabha, said, “Farmers have been waiting to sell their crops for the past five days. The government should make proper arrangement for farmers and ensure that the crop is procured as soon as the produce reaches the grain market.”
Block president of Bhartiya Kisan Union, Gursahab Singh, said: “The district administration is not serious on paddy procurement. The active procurement has not been initiated and farmers are compelled to play in the hands of middlemen who are paying them only Rs 1200 for a quintal against the minimum support price of Rs 1880 per quintal. They are not clear about the moisture content and are really unaware how many days they will have to wait till competent authorities come into action.”
A majority of mandis (paddy procurement centres) in several blocks are expressing their inability to purchase paddy from farmers due to non-lifting by the rice millers.
“Paddy laden trucks, tractors and bullock carts are waiting for days near the mandis to avoid the burden of extra transportation costs. In any case they have to shell out more towards transportation as they have to pay the vehicle halting charges,” said Ganesh Upadhyay, Congress leader and member of Akhil Bhartiya Kisan Mahasabha.
Virk further said they apprised the situation to the administration and urged the DM to take appropriate measures for smooth lifting of paddy. “We will be agitating against the administration at DM office on October 11 if the procurement is not embarked”, he added.
“This is happening in all mandis. We have warned the ADM that the farmers will be forced to hit the streets if such poor treatment will continue,” Navtej Pal Singh, another farmer, said.
The farmers suggested the administration to issue token to farmers before the procurement of paddy by clearly mentioning the quantity of paddy each of the farmers have to bring to the mandis. This way the farmers will be save from paying extra transportation cost.
Farmers also alleged that the few paddy procurement agencies who are working have not been paying the full cost of the paddy to the farmers. The agencies are keeping the cost of 4-5 kg of paddy on the pretext that the grains are not meeting the standard of fair average quality.
Meanwhile, the vice-chairman of the Farmers Commission, Rajpal Singh, has assured the farmers that the procurement of paddy will come into full swing in another couple of days and the farmers’ demands will also be met.