Two years on, Babulal Singh yet to receive Rs 2 lakh for his paddy procured by the govt

Aggrieved by repeated changes and constant delays in paddy procurement and payment, protesting farmers in Mirzapur, Uttar Pradesh submitted a list of seven demands to the District Magistrate. At least 23 farmers await their payment of over Rs 42 lakh. Many are unable to sell their paddy at the procurement centres.

Brijendra Dubey
| Updated: January 7th, 2022

Mirzapur, Uttar Pradesh

Carrying a receipt of Rs 227,540 with him, 62-year-old Babulal Singh has been running from pillar to post to get paid for his paddy harvest which was procured by the district administration on December 23, 2019. For the past two years, he has received repeated assurances from the officials but what he desperately needs is the money to support his family.

“I have been running from one office to another. Adhikaari log (officials) have only assured me that I will be paid but haven’t received a single rupiya till now,” the 62-year-old farmer told Gaon Connection who had come to the district magistrate’s office in Mirzapur where a group of farmers had assembled yesterday, January 6, to protest against the problems in paddy procurement and delayed payments. “I have been to the DM [district magistrate] office eight times in these two years. He has asked me to file a case and get a lawyer!”

“The lawyers demand pachaas hazaar rupaye (Rs 50,000) to represent me in the court. If I had that much money with me, would I be running to get my paddy payment? I have no money left to feed my family. I will end my life if my payment is not released now,” Babulal added.

Singh is amongst 23 farmers from the Mirzapur district whose paddy harvest was procured by the state government-run Pradeshik Cooperative Federation (PCF) in 2019 but their payments are yet to be released. A total of Rs 42,65,641 is to be paid amongst these 23 farmers.

PCF Mirzapur wrote a letter to PCF Lucknow after farmers’ agitation (left). Demand letter issued by Bhartiya Kisan Union (red).

Apart from these 23 cultivators, hundreds of farmers who complain of inefficient mechanisms for procuring paddy in the Mirzapur district marched to the District Magistrate’s office on January 6 and submitted a list of seven demands to be dealt with promptly.

Prahlad Singh, the state secretary of the protesting farmers’ organisation Bhartiya Kisan Union, informed Gaon Connection that frequent changes in the process of procuring paddy had resulted in intolerable delays and turmoil amongst the farmers.

What are Mirzapur farmers protesting about?

Prahlad Singh, the farmer leader, further explained that switching the method of procuring paddy harvest from the farmers was causing inconvenience to the cultivators who desperately need money to be paid in order to afford their household expenses.

“This paddy procurement began on November 1. Everything was going well then suddenly on December 24, the administration decided to introduce a token system which confused the farmers. Then after two-three days, the administration again went back to the old system of procuring through the official register,” he explained.

“These repeated changes in the method to procure paddy has caused incredible suffering for the farmer. The cultivators have not been able to sell their paddy for the last 8-10 days. They have been living at the procurement centre itself in this harsh winter as they cannot afford to pay the transportation charges to go back to their villages,” Prahlad Singh added.

Kanchan Singh Fauji, the district president of the Bhartiya Kisan Union, stated that the old registration system was apt and the administration decided to introduce an online token system, which resulted in chaos and delay.

“You expect 60-year-old farmers to use an online token system? They stand in queues all day at the computer (cyber cafes) and then return to the procurement centres to realise that the token will be accepted the next day. Next day, the crowd is so huge that they do not get their paddy procured. What is this Tughlaqi (mad-king like) policy?” Fauji told Gaon Connection.

Meanwhile, when Gaon Connection contacted the District Food Marketing Officer who oversees the procurement of food crops, he informed that the changes in the procurement system are announced by the state administration.

“These changes are made to make the procurement a convenient process for the farmers. It is based on their feedback. Earlier, some farmers had difficulty getting their harvest procured by the old system so the state administration introduced the new mechanism,” Dhananjay Singh, District Food Marketing Officer, Mirzapur, responded to Gaon Connection.

The protesters handed out a list of seven demands to the topmost district official.

What do the farmers demand?

The Bhartiya Kisan Union, which represented the farmers and apprised the District Magistrate about the farmers distress submitted an ultimatum while underlining that if the procurement is not undertaken swiftly, farmers would soon organise coordinated protests on a much larger scale.

The protesters handed out a list of seven demands to the topmost district official:

  1.  Swift resolution of the paddy procurement process.
  2. Absence of jute bags is delaying procurement at some centres — urgent delivery of gunny bags is demanded.
  3. Increasing procurement limit for a single procurement from 60 quintals (6,000 kilogrammes) to 100 quintals (10,000 kilogrammes).
  4. Processing payment of the farmers who are waiting for their payment from the previous years.
  5. Crop damage compensation and land acquisition compensation for the Howrah-Delhi Dedicated Railway Freight Corridor. 
  6. Ensuring availability of urea for the Rabi sowing season. 
  7. Ensuring availability of pesticides.

Hours after the farmers raised their demands, Mirzapur District Magistrate Praveen Kumar Laxkar issued a letter on January 6 evening which directed the respective authorities to smoothly expedite the procurement process for the aggrieved farmers.