Cotton growers fall prey to ‘middlemen’ in Punjab

Forced to sell produce at low rates | Illegal purchase in connivance with market committee officials

Cotton growers fall prey to ‘middlemen’ in Punjab

Labourers unload a tractor-trailer of cotton at the Bathinda grain market. Photo: Pawan Sharma

Sameer Singh

Tribune News Service

Bathinda, October 6

Buying cotton way above the MSP, private players are calling the shots at grain markets in Malwa. As a result, the Cotton Corporation of India — government-authorised agency for procurement — has not been able to enter the market this season so far.

With only private players left in the market now, it is the middleman (without licence to purchase cotton) who has started making hay by purchasing cotton directly from farmers on low price, citing high moisture content and other quality parameters, and then re-selling it to cotton factories or bigger players on higher rates.

Sources said these “middlemen” were also dodging market fee (1 per cent of purchased cotton) while working in connivance with senior market committee officials in mandis. “This illegal purchase does not even feature in the stock register of the market committee, causing huge loss to the state exchequer,” a source said.

Talking to The Tribune, a market committee official in Goniana block of Bathinda said: “After private players started buying cotton on rates above MSP, middlemen became active. In connivance with the market committee officials, they are directly purchasing cotton from farmers illegally and then reselling it on higher rates to factories in and outside the district. Shockingly, they are dodging the market fee of one per cent of the purchase and even entry of purchase is also not being done for the transaction.” He said these middlemen did not have licence to buy cotton, but some market committee officials were helping them.

Gurvinder Singh, secretary of market committee, Bathinda and Goniana mandis, said: “Farmers are happy that they are fetching good price for their produce as private players have been procuring it at above-MSP price.” On middlemen buying cotton directly from farmers, he said: “It’s not much. Selling small quantity of cotton via them does not make much difference.”

Preet Kanwar Singh Brar, District Mandi Officer, said: “It is not possible as even middleman would be selling it to private players. But if somebody is indulging in any illegal activity, we will get it probed.”

Ram Singh Bhaini Bagha, president, BKU Ekta Ugrahan, said: “With barely any check, such illegal practices are on for years. It is mostly the marginal farmers who get fleeced.”

No entry on register

  • Middlemen are allegedly buying cotton directly from farmers and reselling it at higher rate to factories
  • The entry of purchase is reportedly not being done on the stock register, leading to huge loss to the exchequer
  • A market committee official in Goniana says these middlemen don’t even possess licence to buy cotton, but some market committee officials are helping them

Narma variety to fetch record Rs7,350/quintal

  • Traders have agreed to buy long-staple Narma BT cotton at Rs7,350 per quintal. This is the highest price offered in Punjab, Haryana and Rajasthan. The decision came after officials of the Market Committee, Samyukt Kisan Morcha and Arhtiya Association met in Abohar
  • The cotton was being sold in Gidderbaha between Rs6,950 and Rs7,020. It was fetching Rs7,000 in Mansa and Rs7,045 in Jaitu
  • As rain affected the produce stacked in cotton yards, stakeholders on Wednesday agreed that from Oct 11, cotton-laden tractor-trailers would be directly taken to factories after bidding instead of offloading the cotton in the new grain market complex. This will help create space for storing paddy in the mandi

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