Photo by: Prabhjot Gill
The untimely rains and delayed winter prolonged the wait for Baljinder Singh to harvest his crop. He needed bright sunshine for at least a week to clear the moisture and harvest the wheat. The family has a land parcel of about 42 acres and he is expecting a yield of 22-24 quintals an acre.
Baljinder has two more worries, the lack of migrant labour and the complex coupon-based procurement. Punjab has put in place a staggered marketing plan and farmers can bring only one tractor trolley at a time. The arthiyas (commission agents) can issue only 5 curfew passes a day for these trolleys.
Each trolley can ferry 50-52 quintals of wheat in one trip. This is enough for small and marginal farmers (the large majority in the state with around a hectare of land) but spells trouble for big farmers.
Baljinder and his cousins have lands adjoining each other and harvest together. “We don’t own harvesting machines, but hire machines collectively. This helps us cut costs,” he says.
“The coupon system has complicated the equation. To transport our produce, we will have to make at least 17 trips to the mandi. We don’t have enough space to store the crop and we can’t harvest in batches. It’s just impractical,” says Baljinder.