Coronavirus: Unable to venture out, Punjab farmers sell veggies at throwaway prices

The approaching wheat harvesting season is another cause of concern

Coronavirus: Unable to venture out, Punjab farmers sell veggies at throwaway prices

Manav Mander
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, March 28

The vegetable crop in Punjab is being harvested in bulk, and farmers are unable to venture out to get the desired price for their vegetable crops. They are either dumping the production or opting to plough through the fields.

Amid the coronavirus lockdown, farmers don’t have a designated channel to sell their produce. The approaching wheat harvesting season is another cause of concern for the farmers at this juncture.

Several farmers are unable to get the permission for stepping out as they do not have the required infrastructure and knowledge to send their request to the district administration.

It’s that time of the season when the farmer harvest and sell vegetable crops of peas, cucumber, cauliflower, cabbage, potato, etc.

The retailers are earning a quick buck by selling the vegetables at a high rate as they have enough pending stock. They also managed to purchase vegetables from farmers at throwaway prices as they are required to clear their stock. The farmers are the sole ones, who are suffering.

The local mandis—where they sell their produce to the customers directly—have been shutdown. When they head to the main mandi for selling their produce, the time limit of two hours is fairly less, and instead of arguing over the price they prefer to dump the produce on whatever price they get.

“Earlier we used to go to local vegetable mandis and sell our produce but now since local mandis have been shut, we are in crisis and do not where to sell our produce. This is the harvesting season, and we have quintals of vegetables with us but no place to sell. The vegetable which we use to sell at RS 15 per kg is now being sold at distressed price of Re 1 per kg,” said a farmer from a village near Kohara, Amrik Singh.

Since vegetables are perishable items, farmers cannot keep them for long.

“If things continue to be the same, I will be left with no other option but to plough the fields where vegetables are grown. I do not know the method for getting permission from DC and is now requesting several people to get the same for me and nobody is ready to help amidst this chaos”, he said.

“Some farmers in our village have already thrown peas in their farms and also ploughed the field where vegetables are grown as we are unable to take vegetable to the Mandi. Vegetables do not have shelve life and we are forced to destroy our crop as we are unable to venture out due to lockdown. Yesterday I went to the main Mandi at Ludhiana but the wholesalers were hardly giving any price and in two hours I was unable to sell my produce at the desired price and instead sold it for the price of peanuts,” said another farmer from village Sariah.

Farmers demand that agricultural officers and mandi officers should be designated. They can further fix the responsibilities for picking the produce in such a manner, that there is no rush of the people.

General Secretary of Bhartiya Kissan Union, HS Lakhowal, said that farmers are having a real tough time as local mandis are closed, and they are unable to sell their produce.

“Vegetable crop is getting accumulated, and they have no facilities to store it and cannot go out to sell the same. The wheat harvesting will start from April 13, and we are worried about it as well,” said Lakhowal.

“If the farmers in Haryana will store wheat crop with them, they will be given RS 50 per quintal for one month and if they will be storing the produce for two months then they will be given RS 125 per quintal,” said Lakhowal.

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