Amid apprehension by farmers on Wheat procurement ahead of the harvest, Haryana Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar on Tuesday assured the farming community that every grain of their produce will be procured and purchase centres have been increased this time to allow “staggered” procurement in view of the lockdown.
Khattar said farmers who store their harvested wheat crop for longer durations may be given incentives.
For the procurement, which normally begins on April 1, the state government this time has said for wheat it will begin from April 20 and for mustard from April 15.
“We have written to Centre that farmers should be paid ''holding incentive'' for delaying bringing their produce to ’mandis’ (wholesale markets),” Khattar told reporters through video conference. He said as against 433 purchase centres and mandis last time, this season these have been increased to 2,000 to allow staggered procurement of wheat, which is likely to last over a month.
The chief minister said ''Arhitiyas'' will be involved in procurement process. The government will digitally transfer payments to them who in turn will pay it to the farmers for the crop procured, he said.
However, for mustard, farmers will be directly paid by the government, Khattar said. “For mustard we will make purchases from April 15 and for this, from 66 mandis earlier it will be 140 mandis this time… We are committed to procuring every single grain of farmers,” he said.
The chief minister said that in view of the COVID-19 pandemic, cloth masks will be made available to farmers when they come to mandis and purchase centres.
He appealed to farmers to voluntary donate at least the sum they would earn on 1-5 kg per quintal of their crop produce. He said that all sections of society, including state government employees, have made contributions towards
the Haryana COVID Relief Fund.
Khattar said that while all legislators had decided to donate their month's salary for the COVID Relief Fund, the governor, the deputy CM, assembly speaker, deputy speaker, ministers and him from their discretionary quota have contributed amount ranging between Rs 2 crore to Rs 3 crore towards the Consolidated Fund of India, making it total of Rs 51 crore.
On the farmers issue, he assured that despite the lockdown they will not be allowed to face any problem when it comes to movement of agricultural equipment, including tractors and combine harvesting machines.
With many migrant workers from the state having left for their hometown in Uttar Pradesh and Bihar over a week ago in the wake of lockdown, he said directions have been given in districts to make labourers under the MGNREGA.
He admitted that farmers will have to cooperate this time as availability of labour was going to be a problem.
On March 28 and 29, many migrant labourers who were present in Haryana or came from neighbouring states like Punjab crossed through the state to go to their hometowns in view of their apprehensions about the lockdown.
“Some left (for their native states) and some were stopped. Today, there are nearly 15,000 migrant labourers who have been accommodated in our relief camps. These 15,000, if they want to go their factory or state where they work, if they want to go in a safe manner, we can make efforts to send them back by following all norms pertaining to COVID-19 so that sufficient distance is maintained in buses, like in each bus 20-30 people can be accommodated and sent to their homes. During the past two days 1,000 such people have gone back,” he said.
Khattar also said that state government had taken steps to provide food and ration to poor sections including daily wagers and so far, 55 lakh food packets and 3.5 lakh ration packets have been distributed.
On the Haryana COVID Relief Fund, he said there was no coercion on employees, but so far 1.82 lakh employees have come forward on their own making healthy contributions.