Farmers forced to sell wheat below MSP in Bihar

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Patna, May 18 (IANS) Farmers in Bihar are forced to sell wheat at Rs 1,400-1,500 per quintal even though the state government promised them of fair and remunerative prices for their crops.

Bihar Minister of Food and Consumer Protection Madan Sahni, however said that the state government is in the process to ensure that farmers get fair and remunerative prices for their crops.

“The government has asked the authorities to make proper arrangements for procuring wheat directly from the farmers at the Minimum Support Price (MSP) fixed by the Centre for wheat at Rs 1,735/ 100 Kg for the ongoing 2018-19 Rabi Marketing Season (RMS),” Sahni said.

“Vyaparmandals and PACS (Primary Agriculture Credit Societies) have been engaged in procuring wheat in the state and they are making proper arrangements,” he added.

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According to him, the wheat procurement process has been started in the state on May 1, 2018.

But, the Rabi Marketing Season in the country began on April 1, 2018, while the government agencies in parts of Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan and Gujarat started the procurement process as early as March 15, where wheat harvest usually begins a little early.

The Central government has set a target of two lakh tonnes of wheat for central pool from Bihar, but as of now, the agencies from the state have not contributed to the procurement figure that rose over 328 lakh tonne, as per the data updated by Food Corporation of India (FCI) on May 18, 2018.

An official in the Food Corporation of India (FCI) said that the central agency has no plan to procure wheat from Bihar.

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An official in Co-operative Department of Bihar told IANS that process has begun and farmers are applying for registration, but he could not provide any data for the wheat procured so far.

As Vyaparmandals and PACS have not started procuring wheat, the farmers in several districts are still selling crop at lower rates. The farmers said they have to sell their crops to the local traders to meet their necessities.

Shankar Thakur, a farmer from Kahra block of Saharasa district in Bihar told IANS over phone that there is bumper crop of wheat in the area, so prices have fallen considerably.

“I have not sold much wheat so far, as the local traders are buying wheat at Rs 1,400/100kg… We are waiting for PACS to start procuring from the farmers.”

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Thakur also pointed out that even after procurement, PACS usually makes delayed payments for their crops.

But, the Minister said: “The agencies have been instructed that payments should be made to the farmers within 48 hours of the purchase of their crops.”

On enquiry at the Gulab Bagh market — a major trading centre for agriculture produce in Bihar’s in Purnea district — a trader said that better quality of wheat is priced at Rs 1,500 while average quality remains below Rs 1,400/100kg.

(P.K. Jha can be reached at ([email protected])

–IANS

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