SAHIWAL: The food department has delayed gunny bags distribution among the growers for some days because harvesting is going on yet only on 10pc of the area in the district, Dawn has learnt.
The district food department has established 21 wheat collection centres where total 197,000 metric tonne wheat will be purchased from the farmers. The Punjab government has planned to distribute gunny bags in two phases with the first starting from April 15 to 20. However due to the delay in harvesting and threshing by the local farmers, the distribution of gunny bags has been postponed for a few days.
Kaleem Nisar, assistant director agriculture, says wheat was cultivated at 172,000 acres in the district and there were reports of a bumper crop during the ongoing season.
Agriculture officers from the field say most of the growers in the district had just started cutting wheat. Wheat threshing by machines or any other traditional means has not started yet.
Imran Ali, who has wheat on two acres in Chak 87/9-L, told Dawn he had just finished cutting of the crop through hired labour.
“The threshing would be done in the coming in coming couple of days,” he added.
The wheat harvesting season has created income opportunities for labour also. Babar, a labourer from Bunga Hayat, said he was getting Rs5,200 cash or four maund wheat for cutting wheat on one acre. He said most of labourers were busy cutting and tying of bundles. A family of such labourers could collect wheat for the whole year for family consumption.
Another farmer, Usman Rasheed, of Ratti Tibbi village said he was still looking for a thresher.
Deputy Director Food Shabbir Alvi said the department was ready to provide gunny bags but the farmers had yet to harvest their crops. He said the middlemen’s involvement would not be tolerated at the food centres and the department would ensure that small growers were not exploited. He said all grain market traders must buy wheat at Rs1,300 support price.
TOBA TEK SINGH: Scores of wheat growers on Saturday blocked Faisalabad-Multan Road at Rajana for more than an hour in protest against food department officials who allegedly refused to receive their applications for the issuance of gunny bags.
The protesters, led by Naveed Khan Gadhi, changed “Go Nawaz Go” slogans.
The protesters told reporters that they were asked to apply for gunny bags at Rajana wheat procurement centre on Saturday.
“When we were in the queue, the officials stopped receiving applications just after 30 growers made their submissions,” Gadhi said.
He alleged that ‘influential’ cultivators were being accommodated.
Later, Toba Assistant Commissioner Muhammad Shafiq reached there and held talks with the protesters. He assured them that applications of all ‘eligible’ growers would be received and gunny bags would be issued to them on April 20 without any discrimination.
Published in Dawn, April 16th, 2017