Allegations of distress sale of paddy have come to fore in Sundargarh district. While rice millers have been accused of unnecessary interference at the paddy procurement centres, the farmers alleged that they were not getting the right price for various reasons.
At a time when the district administration is struggling to streamline the procurement process, the poor farmers are resorting to distress sale.
The Civil Supplies Department through 109 procurement centres across the district is procuring paddy and the consignments are directly sent to nine authorised rice mills for processing.
Sources said the representatives of rice mills are ruling the roost at most of the centres. They resort to deduction of five to eight kgs of paddy from one quintal on the plea of presence of foreign articles and above 16 per cent of moisture content. The farmers had recently staged a protest in Lefripara block over the issue.
Sundargarh president of BJP Krushak Morcha Rabi Chandra Patel said in the name of ensuring Fair Average Quality (FAC), the agents of rice mills are bringing down the price by `65 per quintal by deducting the weight of five kg.
The practice is rampant in Subdega, Balishankara, Lefirpara, Bargaon and Tangarpali blocks and other parts of the district. If protested, the mill agents refuse to lift stocks.
Patel further pointed out that several eligible farmers have failed to get the Farmer Identity Cards (FICs) due to either large scale vacancy in Revenue Department or erratic work schedules of the officials.
In areas close to Chhattisgarh border, traders are procuring paddy from small farmers at a price between `1100 and `1150 per quintal and selling the stock to rice mills in Chhattisgarh for `1340 per quintal.
Duaru Deo of Saunamora village in Balishankar block said he has no FIC and recently he sold around 12 quintals to a trader at the price of `1150 per quintal. A week ago, some marginal farmers sold paddy at `1050 per quintal at Karamdihi in Subdega block.
Sundargarh-based Civil Supplies Officer (CSO) Abhiram Pradhan said so far around 14,000 tonnes have been procured against the target of 66,176 tonnes. He said the discoloured paddy is more and the Food Corporation of India is likely to refuse to buy red grains. Except minor hitches, the procurement process is running smoothly, he claimed.