Paddy procurement began across the tribal-dominated Sundargarh district on Monday even as the district administration struggled to discourage middlemen and prevent distress sale.
The administrative initiative to ensure smooth procurement and pay minimum support price (MSP) to bonafide farmers is hit by lack of coordination among Civil Supplies, Agriculture and Revenue departments. The revenue officials are responsible for issuing the mandatory Farmer Identity Card (FIC), but the civil supplies and agriculture officials are not aware of the process.
In the first phase, Odisha State Civil Supplies Corporation has set a tentative target to procure 66,176 tonnes of paddy which amount to 45,000 tonnes of rice with the MSP being ` 1,310 per quintal for common paddy and ` 1,345 for Grade A paddy.
Last year, around 88,000 tonnes of paddy were procured even though the district had reported bumper harvest.
Sundargarh Civil Supplies Officer Abhiram Pradhan said till Monday, around 233 quintals had been procured. “To protect the interest of farmers, FIC has been made mandatory and farmers would have to procure tokens in advance to sell their paddy,” he said.
A bonafide farmer is allowed to sell a maximum of 70 quintals in a day and the payment made through account payee cheque in a week, Pradhan added.
As many as 109 Paddy Procurement Centres (PPCs) have been set up across the district. Moreover, 44 society level procurement committees comprising LAMPS secretary, three farmers, Revenue Inspector (RI), Village Agriculture Worker and Gram Panchayat Executive Officer have been formed to ensure smooth procurement.
Yet, obtaining the FICs in a short span continues to be a hurdle for many farmers staying in far-flung areas.
A senior civil supplies officer admitted that many farmers have complained of facing problem in getting the FICs.
Moreover, to avoid official hurdles and transport paddy to PPCs, most of the farmers are deliberately selling paddy to middlemen at below the MSP rate. A farmer, Mangra Oram, said some visitors are offering farmers between `950 and 1,150 for their produce and also taking consignments from their doorsteps.
Bonai Krushak Sangh president Dambarudhar Kisan claimed that tenant farmers not having FICs are selling paddy in distress.