NUAPADA: AS farmers’ agitation against new laws opening up barrier-free trade and commerce of their produce rages, maize growers of Nuapada are forced to sell below the minimum support price (MSP) with no market yard available for their harvest.
Maize farmers of the district have had a bumper harvest this year but that has not brought them good prices. Over 2.5 lakh quintal maize has been harvested in Nuapada district this time yet farmers are resorting to distress sale. The State government fixed MSP for maize at Rs 1,850 during the kharif season planning but the crop is being sold at half the rates in some places.
A drought-prone district with very little irrigation facilities, farmers have increasingly turned away from paddy cultivation which brought them losses. To recover investment, majority of the farmers have shifted to maize, taking inspiration from their counterparts in Nabarangpur and Kalahandi districts in last few years. That, however, has presented a new set of problems for Nuapada. With the number of maize farmers rising every year, absence of market yards is forcing the hands of the growers.
This year, maize was grown over 8,000 hectare land in Sinapali, Komna, Boden, Khariar and Nuapada blocks. As per reports available with the district agriculture department, the yield this time is also higher than previous years. In last kharif, average yield per hectare was 30 quintal whereas this year, it has jumped to 35 quintal.
The result: Most of the farmers are left with heaps of maize at their homes as they are not getting appropriate price for their produce. While many farmers are reluctant to sell their harvest at lower prices, some have already cleared their stock at Rs 1,300-Rs 1,400 per quintal. Small farmers have even sold their harvest at Rs 800-Rs 900 per quintal to private traders of nearby Chhattisgarh.
Udaya Sahu, a farmer of Sialti village under Komna block had grown maize over 12 acre of land this year and harvested around 42 quintal. “I was expecting a better price this year as my income was affected due to Covid-19 outbreak. Last year, a trader from Kantabanji bought my produce at Rs 1,900 per quintal. However, this time I could not find any buyer and was forced to sell at Rs 1,200 per quintal in the market,” he said.
Chief district agriculture officer, Nuapada Babaji Charan Behera said, the administration is aware of the distress sale but helpless since there are no market yards for maize in the State. “We reviewed the procurement process of other districts but found no solution. After discussing with the district Collector, we recently sent a letter to the director of agriculture to entrust a procurement agency which can help the farmers get appropriate price. We are also planning to form a producer group comprising maize farmers which will help in market linkage.”
As the problem of distress sale of maize is recurring every year, the agriculture wing is planning to encourage farmers to take up Ragi cultivation under the Odisha Millet Mission from next year. Farmers will get better profit as the State government is providing many facilities to promote millet farming, Behera added.