JAGATSINGHPUR: Paddy procurement in Jagatsinghpur district has slowed down due to irregularities by the officials concerned. Farmers are now being forced to sell their produce at a rate lower than the minimum support price (MSP).
While millers are not lifting paddy on time, secretaries of Primary Agricultural Co-operative Societies (PACS) have not registered land records of farmers properly as a result of which, low procurement targets have been fixed. There are 96 PACS in the district and 25,000 farmers have registered online to sell their paddy at MSP. Although procurement started three months back, only 5,000 farmers have been able to sell their paddy through PACS. Earlier, procurement was done twice a week but as millers are not coming forward to lift paddy now, the process has been reduced to once a week.
There is corruption at all levels, beginning from the Civil Supply Department to the PACS. The district administration had decided to engage 35 millers for procurement but only 21 of them are participating now to procure 5.88 lakh quintals of paddy, said District Civil Supply Officer Raghunath Gomango.
The irregularities have hit both poor and big farmers. While the MSP has been fixed at Rs 1,410, farmers are selling paddy at Rs 800 to Rs 1,000 per quintal. Interestingly, big farmers who are eligible to supply 80 to 100 quintals, have sold only 25 to 30 quintals of paddy. Some poor farmers are reportedly waiting for two months to sell their produce and as moisture content in paddy has been gradually decreasing, they fear that the overall weight of paddy may come down drastically during procurement, forcing them to resort to distress sale.
Farmers alleged that the employees of the Civil Supply Department are demanding bribe from secretaries of PACS for fixation of paddy target. Every week, the department is required to fix a procurement target of 600 to 800 quintals of paddy to be lifted by millers, for each PAC. However, the department officials are demanding bribe to fix the target and if the demand is not met by PACS, the target is limited to 300 quintals.
Farmers also alleged that while their agricultural land holding is 15 to 20 acres, the PACS secretaries have registered their land holding as only two to four acres in the online procurement system.