SAHIWAL: On the demand of local farmers, digital weighing machines will be installed in seven tehsil headquarters of Sahiwal division so that farmers get the accurate weight and subsequently better deals for their crops and produce from commission agents.

This was decided in a high-level agriculture task force meeting chaired by Commissioner Nadir Chattha at his office on Friday morning.

Elaborating the reasons for installing the digital machines, the commissioner said it was a long-standing demand of the local growers because they were exploited by middleman and commission agents through traditional means of weighing when their produce was brought for sale in the open market.

He added that in each 40-kilo bag, half to 1kg of the produce was deducted. Secondly, some of the produce was wasted while being shifted from a tractor trolley to a traditional weighing machine.

The meeting participants were told that each digital weighing machine cost around Rs1.5 million that will be installed with the financial assistance of market committees.

Pakistan Kisan Ittehad (PKI) District President Muhammad Hussain said the lack of electronic machines at grain markets caused huge losses to the farmers. They were exploited by commission agents in the form of non-payment of fixed support price of their crops as well as loss in actual crop weight.

With digital machines, it would be easy for farmers to get the best rate for their crop on a single weight receipt. These machines would be installed at seven grain markets, including Sahiwal, Okara, Haveli Lakha, Pakpattan, Arifwala, Qaboola and Chichawatni city.

The farmers’ representative demanded that commission agents issue regular receipts to vegetable and fruit sellers so that the authorised commission could be sought by middleman. Mr Hussain claimed that the government’s commission agent fee was just 2.5 per cent, but they were getting 3.5-4.5pc and 6-8pc from grain and vegetable markets, respectively.

He asked the agriculture department to ensure all commission agents issued proper receipts of the crop weight, price and commission percentage. He also pointed out that it was an established practice that commission agents paid the growers after at least five months and it must be legislated that growers got payments at hand.

The meeting participants agreed that a mechanism must be developed where the difference between grower price and consumer price was minimised so the growers got more percentage for their produce than the commission agents.

The meeting was participated by Agriculture Director Farooq Javed, deputy commissioners of three districts, PKI representatives and revenue department officials.

Published in Dawn, December 5th, 2020

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