Tribune News Service
Bathinda, November 23
The deadlock between cotton farmers and the CCI seems far from being over with farmers holding agitations in the region since the procurement season began this year. Farmers from four districts under the banner of BKU Ekta Ugrahan on Friday staged a protest and resorted to sloganeering against the government in front of the CCI office here.
The protesting farmers rued that even as almost half of the agricultural produce (cotton) had already been procured this season, but the CCI had not come to various mandis to procure cotton at the minimum support price (MSP) till now. The protesters raised slogans against the government and the CCI for failing to ensure the procurement of cotton at MSP in a streamlined manner.
Singara Singh Mann, president of the union, said, “Half of the cotton produce has already been sold, but it is ironical that the CCI has not come to various mandis in the region to procure cotton at MSP till now.”
Mann alleged that CCI officials merely reached out to a handful of mandis where they did not procure cotton at MSP by citing low quality of cotton or higher moisture content.
The union members alleged that the quantity of cotton purchased from the region by the CCI was negligible. Even the rate offered by it for the cotton purchased was quite below the MSP.
Mann added, “Owing to the indifferent approach of the CCI, private procurement agencies got enough opportunities to exploit farmers and purchased cotton at lower rates.
BKU Ugrahan (Mansa) president Ram Singh Bhainibhaga said, “As per the recommendations of the Swaminathan Commission report, the minimum rate for cotton must be fixed at Rs 8,000 per quintal basis, but the government has reduced it to Rs 5,450 (revised MSP this year) per quintal. What has aggravated problems of cotton farmers is that they have not been able to sell their produce even on this rate. Rather they are being coerced to sell cotton at rates way below MSP.”
Puran Singh Doda, president of Muktsar unit of the union, said, “In reality, the government wants to stop procurement. On the one hand, the government talks of the depleting groundwater table and increased levels of pollution in the state and ask farmers to opt for cotton farming than paddy that guzzles more water and when we work as per their directions, they do not provide us remunerative prices for cotton. Now, the government has forced us to cultivate paddy so that at least we can get comparatively a better price for our agricultural produce.”
The farmers demanded that CCI officials must be sent to mandis across the region to expedite procurement of cotton at MSP and the condition of moisture must be abolished. They demanded that the payment of procured cotton must be made within 24 hours.