Farmers run out of cash in middle of sowing season
NEW DELHI: Prem covers his face as he sets the line of paddy stubble on fire. While half the field is ready for sowing, it is his turn to get the other half ready.
His brother has travelled from their Hansi village to Hissar to stand in queue at the Corporation Bank to withdraw money. The brothers do not have enough to sow their next crop of wheat.
ET travelled on NH9 from New Delhi to Sirsa, Haryana’s paddy and cotton-rich belt, and found PM Narendra Modi’s sudden announcement has hit the agrarian economy hard. The most common lament of the farmers was the timing of demonetisation – the crucial harvest time.
The small farmer first harvests and then gets the field ready for the next sowing cycle. He then sells his crop and from that money he buys seeds, fertilisers and pesticides to start sowing.
The government’s demonetisation has caught the farmer at different stages of this cycle. On top of this is the decline in cash inflow. “It is the busiest time for farmers. They have a very small window for sowing wheat,” says Bhupesh Mehta, who has large agricultural holdings in Sirsa.
“When they want to be in their fields, they are standing in queues of banks.”
The announcement has spawned innovative ways of business in villages. Puran, another farmer in Francy village, says, “The village strongman is already promising Rs 800 in new notes for Rs 1,000 of old currency. This is being used by people who do not have the time for queues. There are no ATMs in our villages and we anyways have to go to the banks in towns. That is an expense many are not willing to take. So it is better to take this hit and save some precious time for harvesting.”
SOURCE: ECONOMIC TIMES