Farmers in the lower Kangra district are a harried lot as no buyers are turning up to buy their produce like maize and wheat. Upset over the drastic fall in the selling rate of their products, marginal farmers with small landholdings are forced to sell harvested maize crop at throwaway prices to grain traders.
A number of grain traders have been dragging their feet while buying maize from farmers, sensing the heat due to new farm Bills. It may be recalled that the FCI has a procurement centre at Gujjar ka Talab in Nurpur, which only procures wheat whereas maize was sold to traders coming from other parts of the state and the neigbouring Punjab.
Subhash Singh and Diwan Chand of Kopra, Ashok Kumar of Lagor and Khushi Ram of Badka villages said earlier the traders would come to their fields during harvesting to settle the buying price and they got a higher rate than the MSP. “But this year, not a single trader has turned up to buy maize and we are being offered Rs 1,200 per quintal by some local grain buyers, contrary to the MSP of Rs 1,850 announced by the Government of India,” a farmer lamented.
Vikram Singh and Naresh Singh of Rit gram panchayat said they had stored 50 quintal each of wheat after harvesting in April for selling the same on higher rates later but their all hopes were dashed as, after the new farm bills, they were being offered much lower rates than the MSP. The government had announced Rs 1,975 as the MSP of wheat but now FCI’s procurement centre had stopped procurement and they were being offered lower price, between Rs 1,500 and Rs 1,600, by traders, they rued.
Kuldeep Dhiman, District Agriculture Officer, Palampur, admitted that farmers preferred selling wheat to private buyers against FCI’s Nurpur procurement centre but in the absence of buyers, the farmers were facing hardship in selling their produce this year.