KENDRAPARA: The harvesting season is almost over but heaps of paddy crops dot the open storage fields and threshing grounds in Kendrapara, giving sleepless nights to farmers of the district. Despite having the final harvest with them, delay in procurement has meant that the producers wait till December end for the sale to start. As a result, some have already started selling their produce to traders at well below the minimum support price (MSP).
Most farmers in the district had harvested paddy in the last week of November but the procurement process will start only from December 28. While quintals of paddy are lying in the open, the distance from the villages to the mandis is also a dampener for most. Desperate, farmers have started selling their produce to private traders.
Ashok Mandal, a farmer of Jamboo said, it is not possible for him to wait till December 28 and sell the produce to the primary agriculture cooperative society (PACS) at Mahakalapada, which is around 15 km from his village. Mandal sold three quintals paddy to a trader for Rs 4,500 last week. “I know the government has fixed the MSP for fair average quality paddy at Rs 1,868 per quintal. But I sold the stock to a few traders, who had come to our village recently,” he said.
Nagendra Mallick of Gopei village too feels there are problems galore in waiting to sell at mandis. He harvested around 20 quintal two weeks back. “I have stored my stock under the open sky on a threshing ground in the village and am keen to sell it as soon as possible. Several millers and agents are roaming in the village to purchase paddy from farmers like me,” he said.
Civil supplies officer Prasant Kumar Gantayat said Odisha State Civil Supply Corporation has targeted to procure 80,000 tonne paddy from farmers in the first phase. As many as 118 PACS have been entrusted the task to procure paddy from the farmers. The paddy procured at the mandis will be handed over to 27 rice mills in the district, he informed.
However, farmers are losing patience. Some from riverside villages in Mahakalapada block too are eager to sell their produce to small traders since the only means to reach the nearest mandi is by crossing rivers and creeks. Farmers are unwilling to take the burden and ready to sell their stock to traders who are keen to buy at a lesser price. “It is tough for us to transport the paddy bags on boat by crossing a river and two creeks,” said Haripada Das, a farmer of Batighar.
Till date, 41,568 farmers have registered to participate in procurement process. The government hopes to procure around 1,50,000 tonne paddy from the farmers in the district, Gantayat said.