Farmers Hostage to Middlemen | Milaap

Farmers Hostage to Middlemen

As a Milaap fellow, I have been travelling to remote villages in Nawada and Nalanda districts of Bihar state for the last 2 months. These are the districts which was hit by flood last year. Farmers in the region are still recovering from that natural disaster. And the untimely rains this season put the farmers in bind and made the situation worse for them. During one of my field visits, I met Bachu Prasad a middle-aged farmer from Sachaul village of Hilsa block of Nawada district, is as hapless this season as he has always been. He told me that he is forced to sell his paddy at Rs. 800-1,000 per quintal to middlemen against the stipulated procurement price of Rs. 1,400 per quintal.[caption id="attachment_6966" align="alignnone" width="2592"]Bachu Prasad Bachu Prasad[/caption]I asked Bachu ji “Why are you selling your produce at such a low rate?”Replying to the query, Bachu, a small farmer who owns about two acres of farmland, said: “Sahab, Hum chote log hai aur kya kar sakte hai. Humein agla fasal lagane ke liye diesel, khad aur beej kharidna hota hai aur uske liye humein paise chahiye hote hai. Ab humare paas bank balance aur savings toh hai nahi ki nikal kar laga diya.”(Sir, we are poor people. we require diesel, fertiliser and seed for next crops and for that we need instant cash to buy the necessities. Since we do not have bank balance and savings so we have no way out other than selling our produce at cheap price).I asked him "Why do not you go directly to the government collection centres or PACS (Primary Agricultural Credit Society)? "A Primary Agricultural Credit Society (PACS) is a basic unit and smallest co-operative credit institutions in India. It works on the grassroots level (gram panchayat and village level).He said “Hum pehle wohi jaate hai lekin waha woh anaj lene se mana kr dete hai fir humein mazbooran bazar ja kr bechna padta hai. Sarkar aur vyapari sab mile hue hai, commission ka khel hai sahab Sab.”(First we go to those government collection centres only but they refuse to buy our produce so having no choice we have to go to the nearby market to sell our produce. The whole game is about commission for government officials and merchants)He continued saying “Agar sarkar humara kuch anaj leti bhi hai toh turant paisa nahi milta. Uske liye hum logo ko daudna padta hai. Ab aap hi bataiye ki hum kheti karenge ki roz sarkari daftar ke chakkar katenge. Jabki bazar mei humei kam lekin hatho hath paisa mil jaata hai.”(And if at all those centres buy our produce they don’t pay us instantly. They make you come again and again for the money which is frustrating. While in the market, they pay us as soon as we give them our produce, though it is less.)“We had more than four acres of land. But we had to sell part of our farmland bit by bit to sustain our agriculture, a really unprofitable vocation,” Bachu said.Ironically, Bihar created some of the world records in previous years including 224 quintals of paddy per hectare by a Nalanda farmer. Bihar is also one of the top paddy producing states in India. But the rising yield of paddy and rice — that might have added to the profit and prosperity to dealers, middlemen and traders in paddy or rice — has hardly brought anything for the farmers here. They do not even get the minimum support price fixed by government for their produce.And this is not only about Bachu Prasad, he is virtually a saga of a vicious cycle of incurring loss every season and sliding into gradual poverty with each passing season.