Punjab-based arhtiyas (commissioners) and paddy mills are facing severe losses as farmers from Bathinda, Mansa and Sangrur districts of Punjab have decided to sell their paddy to mandis in Haryana. Farmers have decided to sell the rice in Haryana markets as they are getting higher prices from private buyers compared to the MSP paid in local mandis, according to a report by The Tribune.
The minimum support price for paddy this year is Rs 2,060 per quintal. But farmers are selling the basmati-1509 variety at Rs 3,600 per quintal in private markets in Haryana, while local markets are offering Rs 2,500-3,000 per quintal for each quintal.
Also, the basmati rice variety-1121, which is a new premium variety, is being sold at Rs 3,800-4,000 per quintal in Punjab. Farmers have decided to sell their produce in the Haryana market as it offers Rs 4,500 for each quintal. One of the parmal varieties even fetches Rs 4,500-4,700 per quintal in Haryana. Markets in Haryana that offer better prices to farmers from Punjab are located in Fatehabad, Ratia, Tohana and Panchkula districts of the state.
Reports mention that about 70% of the rice from Mansa district in Punjab is sold in Haryana markets. Apart from getting a higher price for their grain, farmers are also allowed to sell rice with high moisture content in Haryana. Unlike Punjab, where rice is bought within the permissible moisture content limit of 17%, farmers can easily sell their produce in Haryana with moisture levels as low as 20-22%.
With this decision of the Punjab farmers, the state government is losing the revenue collected from the farmers during the procurement of paddy in the form of market fees. The report mentions that while government agencies in Punjab procure other varieties of paddy, basmati and parmal are procured by private markets in Haryana at higher prices.
This decision by Punjab farmers to sell their produce to private buyers in Haryana caused losses to the arhtiyas or mandi middlemen, and they approached the central government to stop the farmers from doing so. Munish Babi Dhanewalia, president of Mansa’s Arhtiya Association, has written to Prime Minister Narendra Modi on the issue.
“Unlike Punjab, there is no purchase limit for rice millers in Haryana, so it is convenient for farmers to sell their produce and get payment in a hassle-free manner there. In addition, private buyers in Haryana are also buying paddy that is slightly above the moisture content limit set by the government,” said the letter written to Chief Minister Danevalia.
Leaders of the ruling Aam Aadmi Party have decided to side with the arhtiyas on the issue and are trying to prevent farmers from earning higher prices for their crop. AAP leaders in Punjab urge farmers not to sell their produce in Haryana markets. AAP legislators Budh Ram and Gurpreet Singh Bhanavali urged farmers not to sell their crops in Haryana as it costs the state money. They assured the farmers that they will discuss the issue with the CM and try to rectify it.
Meanwhile, members of District Rice Millers Association and Arhtiya Mansa District Association have also written to Punjab CM Bhagwant Mann and sought his immediate intervention in resolving the issue. “Both parmali and basmati varieties from Punjab are sold in Haryana and if it continues, then almost 15 per cent of the product will move outside the state, causing a significant loss of revenue to the government,” said Rice Millers Association president Mahan Goyal. quoted.
Notably, while Punjab farmers are now selling their produce to private buyers in Haryana, they themselves forced the central government to withdraw the farm acts that gave them the freedom to sell their crops outside the regulated mandis run by middlemen. They said they only want to sell through the arhties and don’t want to sell directly to buyers. But now, they are bypassing the same arthiyas to sell directly to private buyers in Haryana.