JEYPORE: Farmers blocked Visakhapatnam-Raipur NH 26 passing through Koraput district for several hours on Wednesday protesting involvement of self-help groups (SHGs) for online registration of farmers for paddy procurement in Kharif season.
Farmers of Jamunda, Hadia, Putra, Konga and Bodajeuna took part in the agitation and alleged that involvement of SHGs will derail the process. Hundreds of vehicles were stranded on both sides of the NH owing to the blockade.
Sub-Collector L N Dalbehera and MLA Tara Prasad Bahinipati assured the farmers that they will take up their demand before the Collector soon. After the assurance, farmers called off the stir.
As per the Food and Civil Supplies department guidelines, the primary agriculture cooperative societies ( PACS) across Koraput district were in charge of registering farmers who are interested in taking part in paddy procurement in the past.
This year, though, the Koraput administration directed members of SHGs under Mission Shakti to do the job.
As instructed by the District Collector, the local coordinator of Mission Shakti gave a list of 16 SHGs of Kotpad, Borrigumma, Boipariguda and Jeypore blocks in Jeypore sub-division to the administration and accordingly, these SHGs were selected for registering farmers online for procurement with the help of Jeypore Regulated Marketing Committee (RMC).
Protesting over the issue, hundreds of farmers had staged agitation earlier this month and demanded that the decision be reviewed in the larger interest of farmers. They said while most of the SHGs have no minimum infrastructure like computer and internet facilities for online registration, the members lack professional know-how to make online registration. Jeypore Sub-Collector-cum-RMC Chairman Loknath Dalbehera said the administration has allowed entry of SHGs in paddy procurement as per the norms and it would not be a problem for farmers.
On the other hand, Koraput Krushak Manch convenor Narendra Pradhan said while women empowerment through SHGs is a welcome move by Government, the SHG members cannot be allowed in paddy procurement process as they do not have the technical know-how.