M A I N   N E W S

Farmers in no mood to sell at MSP
Ruchika M. Khanna
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana/Fatehgarh Sahib, April 6
Government agencies may not be able to meet their target of procuring 90 lakh metric tonnes of wheat from Punjab. With the farmers willing to wait and watch for a couple of months till the price of their produce shoots up, instead of selling it at the minimum support price (MSP) of Rs 1000 per quintal, the government agencies are in for a hard time.

Farmers across the state have decided that they will not bring their entire produce to the mandis, and instead store and sell the crop after the rates of wheat shoot up in the open market.

Sukhdev Singh, a farmer in Bondli village, said that he would stock almost 70 per cent of the wheat produced from his nine-acre holding. "Since I need money now, I will sell only a portion of the produce. But when prices shoot up in October, I will sell the wheat and make some profit.”

“The MSP offered now is at least Rs 700 per quintal less than the cost of production, which works out to be Rs 1725 per quintal,” he said.

Agrees Jarnail Singh, who said that all farmers who have some additional source of income through non-farm activities, or those who have over 10 acres of land holding, will be holding back their produce.

“It is only the small and marginal farmer who will be forced to sell at the MSP of Rs 1000 a quintal.

Others will store their produce either at their homes or in the Central Warehousing Corporation’s godowns and then seek loans against these godown receipts”. In spite of the inclement weather during the past couple of days, the government is expecting a good crop this year. However, the farmers are not enthused with the MSP offered by the government.

A ban on the entry of agri-corporates into the mandis in the state, with a view to ensure that the government procures maximum grains for maintaining the buffer stocks and for its own welfare schemes, has not gone down well with the farmers.

Ask Santokh Singh, a 90-year-old farmer in Dayalpura village, “With a ban on agri-corporates, farmers of Punjab will suffer losses, as these companies pay at least Rs 100- 150 more than the MSP.”

“Though we are expected to contribute over 70 per cent to the government pool, no one is bothered to pay us in accordance with the high-input cost,” rues Mahinder Singh, a farmer in Jattana Uchcha village.

Taking this sentiment into account, farmer organisations like Bhartiya Kisan Union (Rajewal) have been supporting the farmers’ decision of not selling wheat in the mandis.

The party has been distributing leaflets to farmers across the state and writing slogans in the villages exhorting villagers not to take to and sell their produce in the mandis.

Party president Balbir Singh Rajewal said, “Over the years, there has been a continuous squeeze in the real margin of profit of farmers. Farmers in Punjab have realised that they cannot be taken for granted.”

“With a global shortage of wheat, the prices of wheat are shooting up. Then, why should the farmers be paid such a low price? As the procurement picks up, we will be making bandh calls to ensure that farmers do not sell the produce to government agencies,” he added.



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