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Sowing in rabi season is likely to drop by at least 20 per cent in Maharashtra as the sale of seeds and fertilisers is getting affected due to scrapping of Rs 500 and Rs 1000 banknotes, a senior agriculture department officer said today. "Sowing may drop by 20 per cent. Crops like wheat, tur and wheat are generally sown in rabi areas, among which wheat is likely to be hit because its seeds are largely distributed by private companies. "The private retailers are not allowed to accept Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 notes that are now scrapped. Hence, farmers are facing problems," the officer told PTI. While farmers can use Rs 500 notes for purchasing seeds from any state and Central government outlets, agri universities, national or state seeds corporations etc, private retailers and suppliers are not accepting the tender, affecting the transactions. Maharashtra Chief Secretary Swadhin Kshatriya today issued instructions to state-run seed distribution centres to accept scrapped currency notes of Rs 500. "I have issued instructions to the official concerned that the scrapped notes should be accepted from farmers buying seeds," he said. Explaining the piquant situation on ground, a veteran farmer leader said that the real problem for farmers lies in "halting of transactions" post demonetisation. "The demand for seeds for current season is 7.72 lakh quintal in the state and the availability in the market is as per the demand. The real problem lies in transactions which are halted by the decision of demonetisation. "The government-owned seed distribution centres run by Maharashtra State Seed Corporation (Mahabeej) and National Corporation have very few centres across the state.
Most of them are located at district level. In such situation, the farmers are forced to travel to district place to purchase the required seeds," said Raghunath Patil, a farmers' leader from Sangli in western Maharashtra.
"On the other hand, the fertilisers and insecticides are produced and distributed through private network of suppliers and retailers. These outlets do not accept scrapped currency notes; then how farmers are going to buy fertilisers and insecticides? "This means (though) farmers can manage to sow but with no boost from fertiliser and preventive protection from insecticides, (it) would lead to drop in production," he said. Though the state government stated to have stored 24 TMC water in July this year through its flagship water conservation scheme, 'Jalyukta Shivar', farmers are finding them in a piquant situation after old notes were banned by Centre. "This is a very tricky situation for farmers. Apart from conventional water storage systems, the state claimed to have managed to store additional 24 TMC water through Jalyukta Shivar. It was expected that water availability would boost the sowing activity but the demonetisation decision is now going to affect the rabi crops," Patil added.