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Private Buyers in Rajasthan are Purchasing Wheat Directly from Farmers

As of Tuesday, government agencies have purchased a total of 694 tonnes of wheat from Hanumangarh and 37 tonnes from Sri Ganganagar during the current rabi marketing season, which began on March 15. Last year, purchases from the two areas amounted more than 1.3 million tonnes for the whole season.

Shruti Kandwal
Last year, purchases from  Hanumangarh and from Sri Ganganagar amounted more than 1.3 million tonnes for the whole season.
Last year, purchases from Hanumangarh and from Sri Ganganagar amounted more than 1.3 million tonnes for the whole season.

This is normally the busiest time of year for wheat procurement, with mandis teeming with farmers, labourers, commission brokers, government agency personnel, and private purchasers.

However, the "new" APMC (Agricultural Produce Market Committee) mandi in Rajasthan's Sri Ganganagar – a large 27-acre complex with nearly 200 stores that opened in late 2017 – has only a dozen labourers and three farmers.

The labourers are displeased with the lack of work. The farmers claim to have travelled from Jordkia village in the district's Padampur tehsil to sell sarson (mustard) rather than kanak (wheat).

“I have already sold my kanak for Rs 2,250 per quintal, above the sarkari rate (minimum support price or MSP) of Rs 2,015. The dalal (agent) of a private company picked it up at that price directly from my field,” says Som Dutt Bishnoi, who had sown wheat on seven of his 11-bigha holding this time — a hectare comprises about 4 bigha of land.

Most APMC mandis in Sri Ganganagar and Hanumangarh, the two northern districts of Rajasthan bordering Punjab that are also the state's biggest wheat growers, tell the same narrative. All of them have a desolate appearance, which is unusual for this time of year, with a handful of farmers arriving with their tractor-trolleys packed solely with mustard or chana (chickpea).

As of Tuesday, government agencies have purchased a total of 694 tonnes of wheat from Hanumangarh and 37 tonnes from Sri Ganganagar during the current rabi marketing season, which began on March 15. Last year, purchases from the two areas amounted more than 1.3 million tonnes for the whole season.

"Normally, 85-90 percent of procurement is completed by the end of April, with the remaining 10-15 percent completed in May." "This time, not just government procurement, but also overall APMC arrivals are substantially fewer," revealed a Rajasthan agriculture marketing department officer.

The official ascribed the significant decrease in arrivals to an increase in "off-mandi transactions" (direct sales by farmers) and a lesser crop. Wheat plantings and production are both lower from previous year.

"There is unquestionably a scarcity. I often purchase 25,000 tonnes from the mandis. This time, I decided to treble my purchases, including those from outside mandis, for a total of Rs 2,250 per quintal. "I expect prices to rise and don't want to take any chances," said a major private flour miller from Sri Ganganagar who declined to be recognised.

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