ROURKELA: Flaws in agricultural policies, lack of authentic database and illiteracy are some of the major reasons attributed to the poor economic condition of farmers in the tribal dominated Sundargarh district.
Lacking an authentic database of farmers, the district administration continues to implement agricultural schemes haphazardly for which most of marginal and small farmers fail to reap benefits.
As per the statistics of the district agriculture office, the district has 1,78,478 farming families with all family members involved in agriculture activities. But the figure seems grossly under-represented considering the fact that the district’s total population is 20,93,437 and above 65 per cent of it are linked to agriculture.
According to sources, during the just concluded Kharif Marketing Season (KMS), it was made mandatory for the farmers to obtain Farmers’ Identity Cards (FICs) from Revenue Department to avail minimum support price (MSP) for their paddy at Government procurement centres. But, about 20,000 farmers could register themselves for FICs after running from pillar to post while a staggering number of farmers failed to get MSP for their produce.
Moreover, the district produced about 7.70 lakh tonnes of paddy but the Food Supplies and Consumer Welfare Department procured a meagre 1.20 lakh tonnes at a cost of `162 crores. It is estimated that above 5.5 lakh tonnes of paddy were sold at far below MSP by the farmers who were marginal, small and tenants.
Bonai Krushak Parishad president Dambrudhar Kisan alleged that agricultural policies cover only those farmers having land holdings. He said a sizeable number of landless farmers along with their family members sweats it out in farm fields as tenants. But they are not eligible for any of the Government facilities including MSP, crop insurance, subsidy on farm inputs and agriculture loans.
Sundargarh Zilla Parishad president Pitrus Toppo said a proposal would be submitted to the State Government to maintain a computerised database of farmers for effective implementation of schemes meant for the farmers.
Deputy Director of Agriculture KN Mohapatra said a survey is underway for Biju Krushak Kalyan Yojana (BKKY), a health insurance scheme for farmers having land holdings and landless farmers would not be eligible for BKKY.
Sundargarh unit CPM leader Banamali Dhupal said the State Government should remove flaws in the existing agricultural policies after a thorough study. An authentic database of both farmers and tenants would go a long way in improving the socio-economic condition of the farmers, he added.