MP farmers face problems of plenty and shortage

Farmers are an unhappy lot as the shortage of jute bags to stock the foodgrain has nullified their achievement and even triggered violent protests.

Bhopal: Despite record wheat production in Madhya Pradesh, the farmers are an unhappy lot as the shortage of jute bags to stock the foodgrain has nullified their achievement and even triggered violent protests.

One farmer was killed in Bareli town of Raisen district early this week when police fired on agriculturists protesting the shortage of jute bags popularly known as `bardana` in the state.

The jute bag issue also rocked Parliament, where Opposition led by BJP, which is ruling Madhya Pradesh, criticised the Centre over the issue and demanded immediate steps to overcome the paucity.

The Congress, main Opposition in the State, led by its MP unit President Kantilal Bhuria, also raised the issue in New Delhi and demanded relief for farmers.

Agencies in Madhya Pradesh have procured 50.27 lakh MT of wheat till May 10, a record in itself. The total procurement during the entire rabi season last year was 49.64 lakh MT, official sources said.

The state is expected to procure 76.92 lakh MT of wheat this year, while the output is likely to cross 100 lakh MT, they said.

"The agencies responsible for procurement failed to make an accurate assessment of total wheat production and also requirement of bardana, which resulted in a major crisis in the state," Agriculture Department`s former Director G S Kaushal said.

Kaushal, in a report, has recommended that instead of storing procured wheat in Government godowns, it would be better if farmers were allowed to stock the produce on their own through traditional method of underground storage facility, known as `bande` or `kothi` in local parlance.

Kaushal said: "That (traditional method of underground
storage facility) would save the Government from the tedious process of procuring and storing wheat till it is finally sold to the parties concerned."
Blaming the Centre for shortage of jute bags, Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan pointed out that his Government had placed an order for purchase of 3.89 lakh bales of jute bags to Director General of Supplies and Disposals (DGS&D) and made an advance payment.

But till date only 2.09 lakh bales had been supplied by DGS&D, which functions under Union Ministry of Food and Agriculture, resulting in the prevent crisis, he said.

The state has made an alternative arrangement for purchase of jute bags and hopes to get them by May 27, sources said.

Meanwhile, Chouhan has also extended the last date for procuring wheat (till May 31) and assured the farmers that the state will purchase adequate quantity of the foodgrain.

Blaming the BJP government for the shortage of jute bags, State Congress Media Department Chairman Manak Agrawal alleged that its plan to buy gunny bags from the private players had gone haywire this year.

The private players refused to supply the bags in view of non-payment of nearly Rs 27 crore in dues to them pending since last year, Agrawal said.