Spectre of distress sale a reality in Odisha's Sundargarh
Sources said the distressed farmers are selling their paddy crop at as low as Rs 1,000 per quintal against the MSP of Rs 1,868.
ROURKELA: As small and marginal farmers are perennially caught in the vicious cycle of poverty and debt-trap, distress sale of paddy remains a grim reality in the tribal-dominated Sundargarh district.
Adding to their woes are the abysmally low procurement target, conundrum of complex rural economy and traps of middlemen and traders.
Sources said the distressed farmers are selling their paddy crop at as low as Rs 1,000 per quintal against the minimum support price (MSP) of Rs 1,868.
From a total area of 3.09 lakh hectare (ha) paddy farms, Sundargarh produces a minimum of 77.25 lakh quintal if 25 quintal yield per ha is considered.
After deduction of 30 per cent (23.17 lakh quintal) for own consumption, farmers are left with 54.08 lakh quintal for sale.
The government has set a target to procure 22.79 lakh quintal from the district, which means a total of 31.29 lakh quintal paddy are up for distress sale. Of the more than 2.67 lakh farmers in the district, sources said, only around 46,900 have been entitled to avail MSP.
Bonai Krushak Sangh president Dambrudhar Kisan said in all four blocks of Bonai sub-division, needy farmers are desperately selling their paddy crop at village weekly markets or through middlemen.
“One Bishnu Pradhan of Talita sold around 20 quintal paddy for Rs 1,200 per quintal while Sophi Kisan of Brahmannali sold about 13 quintal for Rs 1,000 per quintal due to medical emergency. Even leftover poor registered farmers who have procurement tokens are waiting for their turns at several mandis as procurement has slowed down due to inadequate target,” he alleged.
Small and medium farmers needing cash for daily household expenses and paying interest on debts are desperately selling paddy crops at throwaway prices, the farmer leader pointed out.
In Nuagaon block, there have been instances where desperate farmers sold their crops for Rs 1,200 per quintal while unscrupulous traders later took their tokens offering Rs 1,000 per quintal and sold paddy procured from other sources at the mandis for Rs 1,868 per quintal.
In many cases, farmers having taken advance from middlemen and traders for cultivation, are forced to sell their crops immediately at a lower price for repayment.
Sundargarh civil supplies officer BC Mangraj said around 18.67 lakh quintal paddy have been procured till Wednesday against the target of 22.79 lakh quintal.
Ganjam set to meet target
Following allegations of irregularities at mandis, Ganjam Collector Vijay Amruta Kulange on Friday directed officials concerned to be more vigilant during the paddy procurement exercise.
In a virtual meeting with Sub-Collectors, tehsildars and civil supplies officials, Kulange directed that no genuine farmer in the district should be prevented from selling paddy.
This year, the administration has set a target to procure 38.62 lakh quintal paddy from farmers and by February 18, about 36.20 lakh quintal was already purchased.
Since paddy procurement will continue till March 31, the district is likely to meet the target. Kulange directed the tehsildars to verify genuineness of farmers who are selling paddy at the mandis.