The Hindu Business Line
Wheat output may plunge as UP’s cashless farmers delay sowing
Rural banks are cash-dry, leaving farmers unable to procure seeds and fertilisers
Wheat output in Uttar Pradesh could go down sharply in the ongoing rabi season as demonetisation has sucked out most of the cash from the rural economy. Cashstrapped farmers are not able to buy seeds, fertilisers and other inputs as rural banks are running dry.
“The bank in our village gets cash only once in 10-15 days, and even that is so little that we barely manage to get ₹500 each. We are not able to buy seeds and fertilisers,” said Intezaar Ali from Salawa village in Moradabad.
Bhola Pandey from the neighbouring Sandhlipur village is concerned that unless he sows early, his land will turn unsuitable for wheat.
“I have harvested sugarcane and my land is fast losing moisture. I want to plant wheat as soon as possible, but I don’t have cash,” he said.
Cash is out of reach
Unlike vegetable farmers, whose produce are lying in the fields for want of buyers, the farmers who planted sugarcane have supplied most of their produce to the cane factories. Yet, they cannot sow the winter crop for want of cash.
“A number of sugar mills still owe us payment for our last crop. Some money is trickling in, but all of it gets paid into the farmers’ bank for the farmers who are into the sowing season, but I want to give atleast some money to as many people as possible,” Singh said.
Where farmers have managed to sow wheat, the absence of fertilisers is affecting the crop, Mahender Singh said, gesturing towards a wheat field where pale saplings have germinated.
Villages around Uttar Pradesh have been facing cash shortage for more than a month since the government withdrew ₹500 and ₹1,000 notes as legal tender from November 8.
Farmers are now resorting to barter and goodwill to keep themselves going.
“I produce my own seeds. I have loaned some to my neighbours so that they can manage to do at least some sowing before the season runs out,” said Rampal Singh, a farmer in Hapur.