Gujarat Dairy Farmers from Cooperatives Unpaid for 50 Days

INDIA - Milk producers are desperately opening new bank accounts to receive cheque payments, but they don't intend to remain cashless for long.
calendar icon 4 January 2017
clock icon 2 minute read

On 28 Decembe, the head office of the Surendranagar District Cooperative Bank was crowded with farmers, almost all of them from the village of Timba. Nearly 50 days after demonetisation was announced, the farmers were on their third trip to the bank in Gujarat’s Surendranagar district to try to open new accounts. They had travelled the 30 km from Timba to Surendranagar town in a group, so that they could help each other with the seemingly overwhelming process of filling out the bank forms correctly.

“I haven’t been paid for any of the milk I sold in the past 50 days,” said Govindbhai Rabari, a 70-year-old dairy farmer from Timba who looked utterly lost in the corridors of the bank. “The doodh mandali mantri [dairy cooperative secretary] can only pay by cheque, and we don’t know how much longer cash will take to come back, so I am finally opening this bank account.”

In the villages of Gujarat, the heart of India’s milk revolution, dairy farmers like Mr Rabari have been among those most severely hit by the central government’s sudden decision to demonetise Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 currency notes on 9 November. With local banks acutely strapped for cash and their dues stuck in the bank accounts of dairy cooperatives, hundreds of dairy farmers have spent the past seven weeks without any pay.

Now, even as they desperately open new bank accounts to avail of their payments by cheque, Mr Rabari and his fellow villagers are waiting for the “storm” of note-bandi to pass. “Once this whole thing is over, why would we need to use these bank accounts?” said Mr Rabari. “It is much more practical to get our payments in cash.”


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