Rain adds to misery of paddy farmers in Punjab

Chandigarh, Oct 23 (IANS) Friday’s rain has added to the woes of Punjab farmers, who have been desperately waiting for the procurement of their paddy crop which is lying in the state’s grain markets.

They fear rotting of their yield as the moisture content in it has gone up with rainfall and hailstorms. The farmers are also apprehensive that now the procurement agencies will show more reluctance while lifting the crop, and it could lead to more losses.

‘I am waiting for the last four days for the lifting of my crop. There are many poor farmers like me but no central or state government’s procurement agency is bothered about us. With yesterday’s (Friday’s) rain, moisture content has gone up that has also deteriorated the quality of the crop,’ Harbans Singh, a farmer at Amritsar grain market, said Saturday.

Mulakh Sandhu, a farmer based in Baltana village of Mohali district, told IANS: ‘This year, we already have nearly five to 10 percent less production as compared to normal years. Now our crop is rotting because it is lying in the open in the grain markets.’

‘If we again have rains in the coming days then we will have to incur huge losses. This rainfall and hailstorm are also harmful for our standing crop in the fields. Crops have flattened and moisture content has gone up, now we cannot harvest it for at least another one week,’ Sandhu said.

Heavy rainfall and hailstorm Friday lashed various parts of Punjab, including Amritsar, Jalandhar, Hoshiarpur, Batala, Pathankot and Gurdaspur, causing damage to the paddy crop.

According to sources, several thousand paddy bags were lying unattended in Punjab markets.

However, the state government has assured that no crop would be allowed to wither away due to rains.

‘Moisture can damage the crop but it is too early to say anything. Procurement process is on in all the grain markets of the state and we would make sure that no crop is damaged due to rains,’ B.S. Sidhu, the director of agriculture department in Punjab, told IANS.

Adesh Partap Singh Kairon, Punjab food and civil supplies minister, said: ‘To avoid any inconvenience to farmers, my staff is keeping strict vigil on procurement throughout the state. I am satisfied with the procurement process, except in a few mandis (markets).’

‘Deputy commissioners of all districts have been directed to involve their district field officers and staff in the procurement process to make paddy-lifting smooth. By yesterday (Friday) morning, nearly 60 lakh tonnes of paddy were procured in the state,’ he said.

Friday’s rainfall lowered the mercury by five to six degrees Celsius in the region and Met officials have predicted more spells of light rainfall in the next 24 hours.

Agriculture experts feel that this rainfall, which also lowered the mercury and brought some chill in the air, will be beneficial for wheat sowing.

‘This temperature will facilitate the early sowing of wheat. These are perfect conditions for it,’ Mahender Singh, another farmer, told IANS.

‘Besides flattening of the paddy crop in fields, due to rains yesterday (Friday), the final product will also be of low quality,’ he said.

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