‘Which farmer will use Paytm to transfer money?’

Poornima Joshi Shamli (Uttar Pradesh) | Updated on January 15, 2018



Shamli’s cane growers want easy liquidity

Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s demonetisation scheme has hit the farmer doubly hard in this fertile Doab region, coinciding as it does with the harvest and impending sowing season.

The communal division since the riots in Muzaffarnagar in 2013 may still make the BJP a preferred option in the upcoming assembly polls for the powerful Jat farming community here. But the continuing farm crisis, the indifference to the critical issue of sugarcane pricing (no increase in three years), and crushing of the demand for reservation, which saw 32 killings in neighbouring Haryana, has meant that the support that swung the elections in the BJP’s favour in western Uttar Pradesh can no longer be taken for granted.

The Centre has increased the limit for cash withdrawal by farmers up to ₹25,000 per week. This calculation is meaningless for the farmers, who mostly deal with cash borrowed from moneylenders.

Farmers BusinessLine spoke to in Shamli district listed out their everyday expenses — harvesting plus transportation costs about ₹3,500-3,700 per tractor load. This is in addition to expenses on animal fodder and maintenance, fertiliser and seeds, farm equipment et al. And this is not accounting for everyday household expenses. “There should be no limit on withdrawal for the farmer in this season. In fact this whole exercise makes one wonder whether the Government has any idea at all about the way we operate and the daily hardships we face. For the past three years the sugarcane price has come down and the paddy rate is less than half of what it used to be. There is no understanding of the fact that we need ready cash, at hand,” said Jitender Singh Hooda of the Hooda Khap.

Ravinder Singh of the powerful Nirwal Khap hosts a number of village elders, the ‘Chowdharies’ of Talan Khap, Gathwala Khap and Budhiana Khap. They feel they have done their bit in the “national interest” — their district has topped the State in sugarcane production with an average yield of 807.76 quintals per hectare, much higher than the 665 quintals per hectare for the entire State.

But the Government has not risen to the occasion, they say, almost in unison. Sugar mills here have paid less than 45 per cent of the State Advised Price (SAP) of cane purchased for this season. In addition, the Superior Food sugar mill in Unn, where famers in this part of Shamli are expected to sell their produce, has not paid even their last year’s dues.

“The farmer has been left to fend for himself. Which farmer is using these fancy techniques like Paytm to transfer money? We need cash. This is a critical season,” said Ajay Pawar, son and representative of the elderly Chowdhary of Battisa Khap, Udayveer Singh Pawar.

Published on November 17, 2016

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