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Farmers block rail tracks, threaten to intensify stir as prices drop

Social media was agog with reports that a farmer in Maharashtra has complained of being fleeced by a trader to whom he sold cotton outside the mandi.

Indian Farmers | Farm marketing | farmer protests

Sanjeeb Mukherjee & Agencies  |  New Delhi 

Farmers protest
 Farmers block rail tracks near Multania during their agitation over new farm laws, in Bathinda, on Thursday PHOTO: PTI

For Rahul Gujjar, a soybean grower from Ujjain in Madhya Pradesh, the latest changes to the setup haven’t been very beneficial.

Though it is early days, Gujjar says with mandis closed in MP due to an indefinite strike by traders against the three new laws, he is being compelled to sell the early sown varieties of soybean at least Rs 1,200-1,500 below the state mandated minimum support price (MSP) of Rs 3,880 per quintal.

In Uttar Pradesh, too, the initial paddy crop was selling much below the MSP of Rs 1,868 per quintal for the past few days at some places. This could further fuel farmers’ anger against the three agriculture Acts recently passed by the Parliament.

Social media was agog with reports that a farmer in Maharashtra has complained of being fleeced by a trader to whom he sold cotton outside the mandi.

The central government, meanwhile, has stepped up procurement to assuage farmers even as they threatened to intensify their agitation in the coming days. Several Union ministers, led by Agriculture Minister Narendra Singh Tomar and Defence Minister Rajnath Singh, have fanned out to various parts of the country to directly explain the benefits of the legislations.

In Punjab, Congress leader Rahul Gandhi is expected to participate in a tractor rally against the Acts in the next few days. Farmers’ groups, meanwhile, continued their indefinite rail roko agitation and blocked the tracks at several places in the state. The farmers also said staged sit-ins outside houses of some BJP leaders.

The Shiromani Akali Dal, which recently quit the NDA over differences, began three separate “kisan marches” from the three religious Takhts in Punjab to Chandigarh against the new laws.

Sukhbir Singh Badal, SAD’s chief, is leading one of the marches, while his wife and former union minister Harsimrat Kaur Badal is leading another procession.

To quell farmers’ anger, BJP-ruled states have announced early procurement schedule. UP has started procurement of paddy, while Gujarat has started procurement of groundnuts, and Haryana, where procurement was advanced by a few days due to early paddy arrivals, has relaxed quantity limit on sale by each farmer.

UP Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath urged not to sell paddy to anyone below the MSP of Rs 1,868 per quintal for common grade paddy. In the three days till Wednesday, central government records show that it procured about 44,809 tonnes of paddy worth Rs 84.60 crore at MSP in Punjab and Haryana.

That apart, under the Price Support Scheme (PSS), the government through its nodal agencies, procured 46.35 tonnes of moong at Rs 33 lakh MSP value so far, benefitting 48 farmers in Tamil Nadu.

Similarly, 5,089 tonnes of copra having an MSP value of Rs 52.40 crore has been procured, benefitting 3,961 farmers in Karnataka and Tamil Nadu.

The ministry said it has approved procurement of 1.4 million tonnes of kharif pulses and oilseeds from Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, Maharashtra, Telangana, and Haryana.

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First Published: Fri, October 02 2020. 02:24 IST