Haryana: Farmers suffer as Arhtiyas hold an indefinite strike against transparency in procurement of paddy.

The strike has disrupted procurement operations at local mandis and caused inconvenience to the farmers.

On September 19, the arhtiyas (middlemen) went on an indefinite strike after the Harayana government announced the trading of basmati rice varieties on the National Agriculture Market (eNAM) portal.

The strike has disrupted procurement operations at local mandis and caused inconvenience to the farmers. While speaking to news agency ANI on Friday (September 23), a farmer in Haryana’s Karnal informed how he was forced to leave his paddy in the open despite the incessant rain.

“Paddy produce lies in the open amid rains in Karnal as procurement is hindered due to strike by ‘arhtiyas’ (23.09). It’s raining constantly & we can’t sell our produce as arhtiyas are on strike. Govt is yet to take action on the issue,” he emphasised.

The arhtiyas had sought support from the farmers and asked them to not visit mandis for procurement until the government gives in to their demands. According to the Haryana State Anaj Mandi Arhtiyas (HSAMA), the procurement through e-NAM portal has increased the burden of the middlemen and the producers.

It claimed that uploading details of the procurement on the portal, meant to provide transparency in the process, would be time-consuming. President of HSAMA, Ashok Gupta, alleged that farmers were unable to sell early maturing varieties of parmal rice in mandis after the government did not advance the date of procurement.

With arhtiyas having refused to purchase a single grain until their demands are met, Basmati rice farmers are in a state of dilemma. In its defence, a Haryana State Agriculture Marketing Board (HSAMB) official said that procurement through e-NAM portal would impose a levy of 6.5% on arhtiyas and bring transparency.

Meanwhile, the Haryana government is holding meetings with representatives of HSAMA to resolve the issue at the earliest.

Direct Benefit Transfer is changing the lives of farmers in Punjab

In April last year, the Modi government procured 18.24 lac tonnes of wheat from Punjab at the Minimum Support Price (MSP). The Centre had transferred a total of ₹13.71 crores to the account of farmers in Punjab through Direct Benefit Transfer (DBT) at MSP (Rs 1,975 per quintal).

It must be mentioned that since 2018, Punjab sought exemption from DBT implementation in the State. As such, 2021 was the first time that farmers in Punjab received the payment for their produce (at MSP) directly into the accounts.

While speaking about the matter, a 39-year-old farmer named Dalip Kumar said that he was the happiest since he started farming 15 years ago. He had received ₹1.90 lac and ₹1.48 lac directly into his bank account for 171 quintals of wheat sold at the Rajpura mandi.

He said that this was the first time he received such a large payment at once. “This is the best system. What could be better than getting paid for our crop in our account? Earlier, arhtiyas gave us a cheque. After we took our crop to the mandi, everything was in the hands of the agent,” he said.

“The final settlement of accounts took time, as the arhtiya always found an excuse to defer the payment even after the farmer had repaid any debts he might have had,” the farmer recounted.

Date: 24-Sep-2022