ROURKELA: Farmers of Sundargarh district are resorting to distress sale of paddy with the local administration deciding to procure a maximum of 1.32 lakh tonnes of paddy at the minimum support price (MSP). Apparently, farmers are left with the surplus stock of 2.88 lakh tonnes, which they would be forced to sell below the MSP of over Rs 1400 per quintal.
With the district administration helpless in either enhancing the procurement target or stopping distress sale, farmers have started selling the surplus paddy at Rs 900 to Rs 1000 per quintal. Sundargarh Civil Supplies Officer (CSO), Abhiram Pradhan informed that paddy procurement in the district would start from Thursday through 112 paddy procurement centres (PPCs) with initial target to procure 67,00 tonnes rice or 89,000 tonnes paddy.
He said PPAS (Paddy-Procurement Automated System) mode would be applicable in all 17 blocks of the district and sale proceeds would directly reach bank accounts of farmers. He added that so far 25,600 farmers have registered online for selling their paddy. The MSP for common or fair average quality paddy is Rs 1,470 per quintal, while it is Rs 1,510 per quintal for Grade A quality paddy. Last year about 1.32 lakh tonnes paddy were procured and this year it is unlikely to go beyond that.
Sources said with paddy crop cutting nearing completion, it is expected that the district may get a total of six lakh tonnes of paddy from 2.13 lakh hectares (ha). Usually, farmers keep 30 per cent of their paddy yield for own consumption and sell the surplus stocks. This year, the surplus has been estimated at about 2.88 lakh tonnes. Sources said the administration has no mechanism to guard surplus stock from distress sale and even if the administration prevents distress sale, then the surplus stocks would rot in possession of the cash-starved farmers.
Bonai Krushak Sangh leader Dambrudhar Kishan said marginal farmers and share croppers, who require immediate cash, can be seen selling their surplus paddy stocks Rs 900 to Rs 1,000 per quintal at Khuntgaon, Gamlei and Lahunipara weekly markets. Barring a small chunk of large and influential farmers, rest take agriculture loans and hand loans from money lenders for cultivation. Deputy Director of Agriculture (DDA), RN Satpathy informed that cutting of autumn paddy crops is over, while cutting of winter paddy crops would be completed in a week.