Agriculture Policy Briefing

Why Treat Chana Farmers At Procurement Mandis with Disdain, Mr Shivraj Singh Chouhan?

Our governments, of whichever political persuasion, treat the public like dirt. The greater the helplessness of the people, the greater is the humiliation they are subjected to. Milind Gatwai details in the Indian Express how the spirit of chana farmers is crushed by the Madhya Pradesh government’s procurement machinery. The price of chana has crashed. On 8 June it was quoting at Rs 3,400 a quintal. Farmers looking for better value, have no option but to sell to the government at the minimum support price of Rs 4,500 a quintal.

Ghatwai says Than Singh of Lateri in MP’s Vidisha district (External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj’s constituency) got an SMS from a cooperative to be at the mandi, 18 km away from his village, eight days in advance.

Taking no chances, Singh arrived with his son, Roop, a day earlier.

The texted date of procurement turned out to be the date for listing him in the queue. His token number was 234. The procurement would happen six days later.

The mandi handles 40 trolleys a day. The trolleys are emptied, the contents assayed, weighed and packed in bags. Isn’t there such s thing as a weighbridge? Than Singh asks.

This is a departure from usual procedure when trading happens post noon and farmers return the same day, after concluding a sale.

Till his turn comes, Than Singh and his son will have to wait in the open, under the hot sun, away from their homes, unable to attend to chores and paying for food. Those who have hired tractor-trolleys will have to pay rent for the duration of the vehicle’s detention.

Why couldn’t mandi officials just SMS the date and likely time of procurement?

One cannot get more son–of-the soil than MP Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan. Then why the disdain? Are farmers citizens or supplicants?

(Top photo: MP Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan with Union Agriculture Minister Radha Mohan Singh. Courtesy MP Information Department). 

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