Chandigarh, May 22 – The Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) today asked chief minister Bhagwant Mann not to befool farmers with grandiose announcements that their moong crop would be procured when the central government had only agreed to procure 4,585 metric tonnes of lentil which only amounted to ten to fifteen percent of the anticipated production.
In a statement here, SAD Kisan Wing President Sikander Singh Maluka said Punjab was set to produce 4.75 lakh metric tonnes of moong and the centre had agreed to procure only 4,585 metric tonnes. “This minuscule procurement, which is also riddled with riders like maintenance of a revolving fund equivalent to 15 per cent of the sanctioned procurement, will fail to manage the huge lentil produce which is expected in markets shortly”.
Asking the chief minister to leave aside propaganda and allocate Rs 780 crore needed to procure the entirety of the moong crop, Maluka said not doing so would be devastating to farmers as they would be left to the mercy of middlemen. “Right now the union government is procuring only 4,585 mt of moong from Punjab government agencies. There is no surety about the fate of the bulk of the remaining crop”.
Telling to chief minister not only to arrange funds for procuring moong, Maluka said the requisite gunny bags as well a storage facilities should also be arranged. “Hassle free arrangement should also be made for procurement of the lentil in Mandis of the State to ensure the entire exercise does not remain a publicity stunt only”.
Asserting that increasing the production of moong in Punjab was in national interest, the Kisan Wing President said the chief minister should have stressed this point while seeking procurement of the entire moong crop in Punjab from the centre. “India imports a substantial quantity of moong every year for domestic consumption. Punjab should have put forward its case asserting that incentivizing moong growers would save precious foreign exchange”.
Similarly, Maluka said it was condemnable that the chief minister had not addressed the main demand of dairy farmers that the milk procurement price be increased by Rs 7 per liter by State cooperatives. “On this issue also Bhagwant Mann has chosen to befool Punjabis by claiming that milk prices have been increased by Rs 20 per kilo fat which essentially translates into an increase in procurement price by only Rs I per liter for cow milk and Rs 1.40 per liter for buffalo milk”.
Terming this increase as too little, Maluka said the chief minister should realize that State cooperatives have not increased milk prices since four years despite a sharp increase in input costs. He said dairy farmers had already borne huge losses during the Covid pandemic with many of them even being declared defaulters. “Many other State governments have understood the plight of the dairy farmers.
Haryana and Rajasthan are giving financial assistance of Rs 5 per liter to dairy farmers. Bengal is giving an assistance of Rs 7 per liter while Uttarakhand and Telangana are giving an assistance of Rs 4 per liter. Punjab should also reciprocate to save the dairy industry and encourage diversification from traditional crops”, Sikander Maluka added.