BHAWANIPATNA: The new centralised online token system for paddy procurement was aimed at saving farmers from harassment but arm-twisting by millers delayed the paddy procurement process in the district.
This year, the procurement process was scheduled to start on November 1 to check distress sale but millers were reluctant to sign agreement and submitted their security deposits only on November 14 and procurement started on Monday in only 10 out of 172 paddy purchasing centres.
For the current kharif procurement season, as many as 72 millers have qualified to participate in the procurement as custom millers.
Their tantrum is not new. Last kharif season, paddy procurement, which was scheduled to start from November 1, commenced on November 30 because custom rice millers tagged to lift paddy from purchasing centres adopted dilly-dallying attitude and expressed reluctance to sign agreement. Only after the Collector served a notice that they fell in line.
Last rabi procurement season too, the millers delayed the agreement signing process which almost delayed the procurement by 15 days. Millers allege that despite assurance, custody maintenance charges for the paddy stored with the millers are yet to be paid.
During the current kharif season, the Agriculture department has estimated paddy production of 81 lakh quintal and the plan to procure marketable surplus paddy was prepared accordingly. As many as 72,843 farmers had registered their names online by September 22. In the first phase, the State Government set a target to procure 26 lakh quintal paddy and the quantity will be increased gradually.
Paddy will be procured through 74 Primary Agriculture Cooperation Societies (PACS) and 17 women SHGs in 178 mandis. Last year, 36 lakh quintal paddy was procured during the kharif season. As has become the norm, the millers often complain about the quality of paddy and express their reluctance to lift the stock. This despite the fact there is a system in place to check the quality of paddy.
While some farmers said the system along with eye scanning will help check influence of middlemen, there are others who are confused. Indramani Sahu of Belpada village in Kalampur block opined that the process will cause delay. “The new system will cause confusion and be hectic for farmers,” he said.
Manoranjan Rajguru, a farmer from Jagannathpur village in Bhawanipatna block, said agents of millers and PACS may play mischief with the new procedure. There is apprehension that in case of any technical problem, PACS officials and SHGs will shirk their responsibility. However, Santanu Behera of Risgaon village in Bhawanipatna block said the new system is good and if properly implemented, can curb brokers’ activities.
However, many feel the ceiling of 50 quintal fixed for each farmer may cause problem. “It will increase labour and transportation cost,” he said. The farmers said the system can be simplified by allowing them to sell their produce in one phase. District Civil Supply Officer Sibaprasad Dora hailed the system and said it will strengthen the paddy procurement process and also curb brokers’ activities.