Saturday, November 4, 2000,
Chandigarh, India






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Farmers selling tractors to clear debts
From Chander Parkash
Tribune News Service

KOTKAPURA, Nov 3 With the economic condition going from bad to worse in the current paddy season the number of people frequenting the tractor bazaars being organised in every nook and corner of the state has started swelling as more and more farmers are trying to sell off their machines to generate cash for meeting social commitments.

After having sold off their paddy stock at a rate much below the minimum support price in the current procurement season, the farmers whose economy has been shattered, have found a novel way to generate much needed cash.

These farmers have started selling their new tractors in the bazaars at a rate much below the showroom prices to generate money for repaying old debts and meeting other social responsibilities.

A survey to different tractor bazaars by TNS revealed earlier few new tractors used to come into the bazaars for sale but now the number of new tractors was on the rise. Apart from it, the number of buyers of tractors from these bazaars had been declining.

Guraditta Singh, a farmer of the region, said in the current season the paddy crop could not find considerable buyers and farmers had to sell their crop much below the minimum support price and suffered huge losses. He added he was trying to sell off his tractor.

Sukhjit Singh, another farmer, said he had exhaust all channels of raising loans and was still feeling the financial crunch. He added that to generate cash he took loan for a new tractor and was now trying to sell it off at Rs 90,000 less than the showroom price.

Various bank managements have urged the district authorities in many areas to take the necessary steps to check the sale of new tractors in the bazaars. However, the new tractors have been flooding the market for the last about one month.

A senior bank official said in Bathinda, Faridkot and Mansa districts more than 1,000 new tractors had been sold off by the farmers in the bazaars immediately after their delivery from the showrooms in the past few years. He pointed out that on account of such a trend prevailing among farmers they had been facing problems in the recovery of loans advanced to them for tractors.

Joginder Singh, another farmer who was waiting for a customer for his tractor, said big landlords and those farmers who were well off were cashing in on the situation. These landlords and farmers purchased new and old tractors at rates much below the genuine prices and then sold them off again in neighbouring Haryana and Rajasthan at higher prices.

The bank official pointed out that certain farmers had sold off their machines to persons living in far off places. Some had sold their tractors under a secret deal while others had sold off the tractors clandestinely.

Interestingly, in certain cases employees of tractor companies have acted as agents for the farmers for arranging cash for them. These employees have arranged loans, tractors and buyers for the farmers who have been reading under heavy debt. Under the scheme of things the new tractors have been landing up in the bazaars directly from the showrooms.

Mr Amritpal Singh Brar, president of the Punjab Young Farmers Federation, said the authorities concerned should make arrangements to desist the farmers from indulging in the sale of tractors. He pointed out that repeated failure of cotton crop and distress sale of paddy had forced the farmers of Punjab to sell off their tractors and commit suicide.

The tractor bazaars are being organised in Talwandi Sabo, Moga, Faridkot, Muktsar, Mansa, Ludhiana and Patiala areas. The trend of sale of new tractors in such bazaars is very much prominent.

Gurnam Singh, a farmer in the tractor bazaar here, said if the Punjab Government failed to break this trend the poor peasantry would start using the traditional plough.
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Loans promised
From Our Correspondent

BATHINDA, Nov 3 Farmers of the state will be given loans worth Rs 1100 crore through the cooperative banks. This was stated by Mr Ranjit Singh Brahmpura, Cooperative Minister, Punjab, while addressing a press conference here today.

Mr Brahmpura, who was here to inaugurate the 40th branch of the Bathinda Central Cooperative Bank Ltd, addressing mediapersons said loans had already been provided to the farmers for the just expired kharif season.

Giving details of the policies of the bank, he added the interest rate on loans had been reduced to 14.5 per cent and in the revolving credit scheme credit limits of 64,200 farmers worth Rs 600 crore had been sanctioned.
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