HPMC, HIMFED barter farm items for ‘C’ grade apple

HPMC, HIMFED barter farm items for ‘C’ grade apple

Subhash Rajta

Tribune News Service

Shimla, October 18

The barter system may have gone out of vogue long back, but government agencies such as the HPMC and HIMFED are keeping the old method of exchange alive in Himachal Pradesh.

In lieu of the full or partial payment for ‘C’ grade apple procured through the market intervention scheme, these agencies offer agricultural tools, fertiliser, crates, baskets, TSO oil, juice and jam to the farmers. Generally, these agencies make payments very late, more than a year later. As a result, many farmers opt to buy some tools or horticultural products that these agencies offer, rather than waiting for the payment.

“Waiting for a couple of years for the payment is quite normal. When my payment of around Rs 20,000 got stuck for more than two years, I picked some products to adjust the amount,” says Pawan Sharma, an orchardist from Theog. “Also, these tools and products are expensive, and you don’t have any bargaining power,” he adds.

Admitting delay in disbursement of payments, HPMC General Manager Hitesh Azad says that it happens because the agency itself gets money late from the government. “We have to wait for funds from the government to make payments. Once we get the money, we try to clear the pending payments as quickly as possible,” he adds.

“Meanwhile, farmers are offered the choice of horticultural products in lieu of their payment, as they anyway have to spend on these items,” says Azad.

However, not everyone is happy with this system. “Small and marginal growers need cash for their produce and they can’t wait for years for their payment. For them, a prompt payment system will be far better,” says a government official.

Arhtiyas see a larger problem arising out of delayed payments. “Knowing that the payment will come after a long time, small farmers bring their substandard produce to the market as prompt payment is assured there. This substandard produce pulls down the overall market rate, hurting everyone,” says NS Chaudhary, president of the state Arhtiyas’ Association.

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