Demonetisation of Rs 500 and Rs 1000 notes: Farmers fear missing out on sowing time

There is a widespread panic among farmers, who had recently harvested their paddy crop, and were preparing for the next Rabi season. They fear that in the absence of new currency notes they will miss out on the crucial sowing time. This is most crucial time for a farmer when he not only sells his paddy crop, but also makes purchases for seeds, fertilizer and diesel for the next crop. 

Now the cash received from the selling of farm produce has become useless because of discontinuation of the 500 and 1000 currency notes, says Professor Sudhir Panwar, who is also head of Kisan Jagriti Manch. It will take another 15-20 days for the new system to stabilize, but this is also the time for sowing. There is a panic among small and marginal farmers and as well as labourers, he says.

Panwar says most of the transactions among farming community is held in cash and a few per cent of labourers have bank accounts. Now these labourers will now have to wait longer for few extra days before their dues in cash are cleared. This may impact their lifestyle and will have to make purchases on credit.

But in urban areas most employers have decided to help domestic workers and daily wagers. My monthly salary cycle begins from 10th of very month, but I have asked my employer to postpone my salary for three four days and pay me with new currency notes. She has also agreed to help me convert the old currency notes with newer ones," says Prabha Kumari, a migrant from Odisha. Kumari works as a domestic help and doesn’t have a bank account in Delhi.

It is estimated that a little over 50 per cent of India's population have access to banking services despite the surge in number of new bank accounts under the Prime Minister Narendra Modi's ambitious Jan Dhan Yojana.

According to World Bank report though the number of bank accounts increased from 35 per cent to 53 per cent between 2011 and 2014, India suffers from high dormancy rate of around 43 per cent.

There have been media reports accusing banks to infuse money in the newly bank accounts under the Jan Dhan Yojana to lower the number of "zero bank balance" accounts. 

The farmers say they will purchase the seeds on credit till the new system stabilises. But their main worry is diesel as the petrol pump owners have already started to refuse currency with denomination of Rs. 500 and Rs.1000.

Some taxi drivers are also reporting of problems at the petrol pumps. Though we are accepting Ola money from passengers, but we also need some daily cash to fuel the taxi. I have filled my tank today, but not sure about tomorrow. I will have to visit my bank branch and put in a fresh request for a debit card, says Ramesh Yadav, a driver.

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