BALASORE : Traders from West Bengal have started camping in several areas of North Balasore blocks which have reported good crop this season despite drought like situation in other parts of the State.
This, despite the fact that the district administration has advanced the procurement process by nearly a month this year, keeping in mind black-marketing of paddy in the past. The procurement will start from December 10, while last year the mandis were opened in first week of January.
The unscrupulous traders from West Bengal are procuring paddy from the doorsteps of farmers at cheaper prices.
They are purchasing the produce at `1,000 per quintal, nearly 25 per cent less than the minimum support price (MSP) fixed by Odisha Government. The MSP for fair average quality (FAQ) paddy has been priced at `1,410 per quintal.
The farmers are not hesitant to sell their produce at lesser prices either. With no certainty over opening of mandis on the scheduled date and several farmers in dire need of money to repay the loans, the traders could not have asked for a better opportunity.
A farmer Ashok Behera said, the traders are taking paddy from our doorstep and we don’t have to spend on transportation or wait for long hours at mandis. “Moreover, the traders pay us on the spot unlike the millers or procurement agencies who pay through cheque,” he pointed out.
On the other hand, delay in registration of farmer names and faults in the online list at the mandis have left many farmers at the receiving end.
The district has set a target to procure nearly 6.5 lakh quintals of paddy through 160 centres, including Primary Agriculture Cooperative Societies (PACS).
The Regulated Market Committees (RMCs) also have been roped in to ensure to fair sale. However, farmers alleged that RMCs are yet to get their warehouses ready to store the procured paddy.
Collector Pramod Kumar Das said, efforts are on to open mandis on December 10 and make payments within three days of procurement. “We are also keeping a strict vigil on traders from outside State camping here to protect the interest of farmers,” he added.