CUTTACK: Vegetable farmers of the district are forced to go for distress sale of their produce due to lack of cold storages.With the harvesting time nearing, farmers especially cultivating potato, tomato and onion are a worried lot as they will have to sell their produce at throwaway prices to traders due to lack of storage facilities and proper marketing linkage.
As per reports, as many as five cold stores were set up in Athagarh, Banki, Bahugram (Salepur), 42 Mauza (Cuttack Sadar) and Bramhanajharilo (Baranga) by the Cooperation department. However, all the cold stores have been lying defunct since one to two decades. No step has been taken for revival of the defunct facilities, the farmers complained.
"In the absence of cold storage facilities to preserve the vegetables, we are forced to sell our produce to middlemen at prices lower than the market price soon after the harvesting," said Sarat Rout, a farmer of 42 Mauza, demanding a cold store in their area.
On the other hand, farmers are unable to afford the high charges levied by the private cold stores at Jagatpur, Nischintakoili, Jharilo, Trisulia and Kissan Nagar towards storing their produces. Farmers alleged that the owners of private cold stores in gross violation of the Government norms are giving priority to store fruits of traders instead of preserving farmers’ vegetable to earn more money.
"The private facilities refuse to store our vegetables saying there is no space. Complaints with the district administration in this regard too yielded no result," said Rabindra Barik, a farmer of Nischintakoili. If all the five defunct Government-run cold stores are made functional, farmers of the district will able to store their vegetables for better price realisation, said another farmer.
While Deputy Director of Horticulture Baishnab Barik said he has not received any complaint from farmers about refusal by the private cold stores to preserve vegetable, District Registrar of Cooperative Society (DRCS) Laxmidhar Subudhi, however, said there is no Government plan to revive the defunct facilities.