Farmer Jairam Mandloi probably did not know about the Madhya Pradesh government's claim of a record crop procurement this year. His death stands testament to a dismal situation instead; he expired of a heart attack after standing for two days at the Dewas District's crop procurement centre.
Kilometre-long queues dotted by farmers facing stalled payments at such centres are commonplace. Procured crops lying in the open amid showers add to the scenery.
And Mandloi is not the only victim. Previously, a 45-year-old farmer had died in Agar Malwa of a heart attack, after standing in a queue at a wheat procurement centre for six long days.
Mandloi's family seeks justice; they have alleged mismanagement at the centre he died at.
Another farmer, Sriniwas Sarkar, 45, had hung himself at the Batkidoh village in Betul District a day ago. His family credits his death to the pressure of unpaid loans totalling Rs 40,000. The administration has ordered an inquiry into his death, and the report is awaited.
Former Chief Minister Kamal Nath has regularly been alleging that hungry, thirsty farmers are forced to stand in long queues for abysmally longer hours at such centres, amid gross mismanagement by the authorities. He also claims that there is a dearth of sacks and proper weighing systems at procurement centres.
Farmers continue to complain of delayed payments. Agricultural expert and Congress leader Kedar Sirohi says that instead of the administration fixing the numbers of farmers allowed at procurement centres, it should have fixed the amount of wheat to be procured.
“According to our information, around 33 lakh metric tonne wheat is lying at procurement centres established in farmlands and with delayed transportation, these grains worth Rs 7000 crore are at the mercy of the almighty amid pre-monsoon showers,” claims Sirohi.
In the absence of sale in open markets, farmers have to rely on government procurement, Sirohi says, adding that several districts had witnessed showers.
If another shower lashes the grains, he says, they could germinate easily.
But the state government tells another story - that of speedy payments to farmers and record procurements even amid a rigorous lockdown.
Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan claims that over 1.20 lakh metric tonne wheat has been procured in time less than one-and-a-half months, in the state.
Close to Rs 16,000 crore have been transferred in the accounts of farmers, and the remaining payments will be made shortly, said Principal Secretary Food and Civil Supplies Sheo Shekhar Shukla.
He said 85% of procured wheat had been transported and shifted to storage facilities.
Meanwhile, the threat of coronavirus and bad weather adds to the ailments of farmers in the state. Advisories were issued in light of the Cyclone Nisarga on Wednesday, even as the government attempts stricter implementation of social distancing at crop centres.