By admin       2018-10-22

The reason for farmers’ lack of enthusiasm about CCI lie in the social structures of rural Punjab, in which the arhatiyas and farmers share a close transactional relationship. Farmers say dealing with CCI is fraught with the risk of upsetting the arhatiyas, who might not be willing to help them in the future. Farmers depend on arhatiyas for small loans for cropping operations and personal needs, which they find more convenient than approaching a bank for a loan. Also, several farmers at Abohar mandi said, selling to CCI requires registration and submission of documents such as Aadhaar and bank account details. The entire crop is checked thoroughly for moisture content, and the MSP is reduced according to readings of the moisture meter. Even then, the money might take a week or longer to come into the farmer’s hands, whereas the arhatiya pays immediately. There are about 26,500 licensed arhatiyas in Punjab, who control the crop of over 11 lakh farmers who mainly cultivate paddy, wheat, and cotton. Each arhatiya deals with between 20 and 200 farmers. The lives and economic wellbeing of the arhatiyas are often linked to those of the farmers. Arhatiyas earn interest on the credit they offer to farmers in need of cash, and a commission of 2.5% per quintal on the crop they supply to buyers. Also, many arhatiyas are farmers themselves. They are Jat Sikhs, as opposed to Banias or Punjabi Khatris/Aroras. These arhatiyas are bigger farmers who aggregate the produce of smaller farmers, who take loans from them. “Not a single farmer has registered with the CCI for direct selling of their crop. We wanted to purchase from the farmers in case the rate falls low against the fixed MSP, but we cannot force them to sell to us,” Brijesh Kasana, general manager of the CCI’s Bathinda office, said. Punjab, one of the top 10 cotton-producing states of the country, is expected to produce some 9 lakh bales of cotton (1 bale equals 170 kg) this year. In Punjab, Haryana and North Rajasthan (mainly Sriganganagar and Hanumangarh districts), the first pickings of kapaas (raw in-ginned cotton containing both the lint fibre and seeds) starts around end-September. Farmers usually go for three pickings, one following the other in 15-20 days, so that harvesting is completed by early November, which allows farmers to then plant wheat. In Gujarat, Maharashtra, etc, pickings start around mid-October.

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