Farmers get subsidized equipment on higher than market rates from State Agro

Farmers get subsidized equipment on higher than market rates from State Agro
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No post sale services, no replacement, says farmers and Agriculture officials

Anantnag/Kulgam: The JK State Agro Industries Development Corporation (SAIDC) is providing susbsidised equipments to farmers at higher than market rates, several farmers allege–a claim corroborated by some Agriculture officials. Moreover, the corporation is failing to provide post sale service and replacements.
Till a few years back the government had registered dealers in every district. The farmers were free to choose equipment of their choice, from a dealer of their choice and the Agriculture department provided a subsidy on the purchase.
Then the SAIDC, a semi government company, came into picture and it was made mandatory for Agriculture department that the equipment under government subsidy will be supplied by the corporation.
Horticulture department still procures the equipment the old way.
This monopoly of the SAIDC, the farmers say, has not only burnt a hole in their pocket but has also left them devoid of further necessities like timely service of the machines or replacement of the faulty equipment.
“I recently bought a brush cutter from the Agriculture department (supplied by SAIDC) for 27 thousand Rupees, plus a thousand rupees extra for a blade,” Tariq Yousuf, a farmer from Kulgam told Kashmir Reader.
He said that the same brush cutter (manufactured by Honda) has a market price of only 24000 Rupees.
“And I was told by the officials, while buying, that it cannot be replaced in any case. ‘It is what it is’ is what they said to me,” he said.
It was was true for other equipment like tractors, tillers, water motors, water pumps and other equipment provided under subsidy, sources said.
Sources in the Agriculture department corroborated the claims of the farmers.
“The poor farmers do not get any service and yes, they get the equipment on way higher rates than the market,” sources said, adding that higher the price of the equipment, higher was the discrepancy. The sources told Kashmir Reader that there were huge discrepancies in rates of tractors, most of all.
“There is a margin of around twenty to forty thousand rupees in the rates of tractors we provide and those purchased from the open market,” sources said.
A top official from Agriculture department, requesting anonymity, told Kashmir Reader that the issue has been raised time and again with the government but to no avail.
“The poor farmers keep suffering and we are unable to face them, despite the fact that we only provide the subsidy amount and hand over the machinery, provided to us by the SAIDC,” the official said.
He said that the farmers are at the receiving end for they do not have the freedom to pick a product of their choice.
“They are forced to buy whatever the SAIDC provides them and then they do not get the necessary services,” the official said.
Managing Director of the SAIDC, Rakesh Khajuria, when contacted by Kashmir Reader refuted the allegations.
He maintained that the corporation has no role in purchase of tractors, for one.
“The farmers are free to buy a tractor from anywhere and provide the department a bill against which the subsidy is then released,” Khajuria said.
His claim, however, was debunked by both the farmers and the Agriculture officials, who maintained that the farmer is bound to buy the tractor from SAIDC if he wants a subsidy.
Khajuria further said that utmost care was being taken to make sure that the farmers get the best deal.
“We have benchmark prices and we make sure that the farmer does not have to pay a single penny extra. We sometimes negotiate the prices with the companies on behalf of the farmers,” Khajuria said.
He said that SAIDC has received two such complaints, from Jammu region, in the last five or six years it has been providing the equipment.
“The complaints were resolved within no time. I urge the farmers to come forward and visit me with the complaints, if they have any,” Khajuria said.
Moreover, he said, timely services are ensured by the SAIDC from the equipment providing companies so that the farmers do not suffer on that front as well.