BHUBANESWAR: With farm crisis not sparing cotton growers of the State, the Odisha Government has asked Collectors of seven districts to conduct smooth procurement of the produce and ensure that minimum support price (MSP) is paid to farmers.
The Agriculture Department has directed Rayagada, Kalahandi, Balangir, Nuapada, Gajapati, Ganjam and Sonepur districts to begin identification of cotton farmers through a structured process. The Regulated Market Committees (RMCs) have been mandated with the task of identifying the farmers by verifying land records, land-holding and produce of the growers. The Department has also set a ceiling for the farmers to sell their harvest under MSP operation and the limit will be decided basing on land holding. On a single day, a farmer will be allowed to sell 40 quintal of cotton. Anyone bringing in more than 40 quintal will have to go through a re-verification process by RMC officials. However, the ceiling may vary from district to district depending upon the production and local issues.
Besides, the RMCs will also have to ensure that middlemen and agents do not pool away the produce of small farmers and sell them at the mandi in the original farmer’s name. For this purpose, a register will be maintained with ID proof and banking details of cotton growers to eliminate any discrepancy. The Government has also instructed that farmers have to be remain present physically during the procurement process. In the event of any farmer bringing in the crop of a fellow cotton grower, consent forms and bank passbooks have to be produced so that the original farmer gets the due MSP.
The Department has also asked the Collectors to set up control rooms immediately for quick settlement of disputes and complaints. An awareness campaign will be mounted to sensitise the farmers about the date of procurement and the venues. The Collectors will head the district level cotton development committees for chalking out procurement strategy and fair MSP operation. The procurement centres will be opened basing on the arrival of farmers which will be decided at the district level panel.
While the Department has insisted on online payment of MSP to the farmers, a State-level panel headed by Principal Secretary will take stock of cotton area coverage, yield, production and marketing facilities before the procurement policy is taken up. Suicide by cotton farmers has been reported from Rayagada and Nuapada districts in the recent weeks.