Friday, April 12, 2002, Chandigarh, India


M A I N   N E W S

Selective procurement annoys farmers
Sarbjit Dhaliwal
Tribune News Service

Khanna, April 11
Farmers are angry as government agencies are only making selective procurement of wheat. Farmers have to wait for days to sell their wheat. Officials concerned say they have been procuring only that wheat which has a moisture level of up to 12 per cent, the specification fixed by the Food Corporation of India.

However, farmers do not believe what the officials say. Mr Sher Singh of Bhadla village, near here, says that his wheat was not procured yesterday. Even today he was not sure that it would be procured. He says that the moisture level in his wheat stack is quite low. Even officials concerned did not touch his wheat. Then how they came to know that the moisture level was above 12 per cent in his stack, he says.

Because of indifferent attitude of procurement agencies, farmers have slowed their wheat harvesting operations. Mr Swaran Singh of Nalheri village says that he brought about 300 quintal of wheat here yesterday. But it was not procured. He has sent a message to his sons back home that they should stop the harvesting till the wheat lying in the market is procured. He has 45 acres more of wheat crop to harvest. Same story was narrated by Mr Sher Singh. Mr Harnek Singh and Mr Jugraj Singh of the Ladpur village had brought the wheat four days ago. But till this morning, their wheat was not procured.

As The Tribune team was interviewing farmers and other persons concerned, it had the chance to witness the holding of auction by PUNSUP officials. The officials were moving from one stack to other. They rejected a large number of heaps of wheat because of the moisture factor. It is a fact that officials concerned were using moisture meter to check the level of moisture but it appeared to be a very crude and undependable type of method. Moisture meter is a small mechanical machine. About 100 grains of wheat are put in a small jar which is subsequently fitted in the machine to gauge the level of moisture.

Farmers says that they have doubts about the machine being used by officials concerned to gauge the level of moisture. It is being used to harass farmers. There appears to be some truth in the observations made by farmers. Even stacks appearing well dried were rejected today by the procurement agencies. Rejection level of heaps of wheat is quite high. farmers says that the government agencies have been rejecting wheat with an objective of discouraging farmers from glutting the market with wheat.

However, Mr Harbans Singh Rosha, president of the local Arhtiya Association, says that the organisation is satisfied the way procurement is being handled by the government agencies. All the wheat stacks worth procuring have been procured by the different government agencies, he adds.

At Pir Jain, a rural market near Fatehgarh Sahib, wheat was procured for the first time today. Out of 500 quintals lying in the market, procurement agencies found only 100 quintals fit for procurement. Officials concerned said the remaining would be procured in days to come as it would dry to the level fixed for procurement.

When asked about the controversy regarding charging of commission from sellers of wheat, Mr Rosha said the FCI had already issued a clarification in this connection. The commission would be charged from procuring agencies. Arhtiyas had billed the commission on procurement which is 2.5 per cent to the procurement agencies, including the FCI, he claimed.

Even, an announcement was made in the local market to tell all concerned that commission meant for arhtiyas should be billed to procurement agencies. Till date about 2,441 tonnes of wheat has arrived in the local market and out of it 1,691 tonnes have been procured by different procurement agencies and private traders, whose share is about 264 tonnes.Back

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