JEYPORE: Even as paddy growers’ resentment over non-procurement of surplus produce continues in Koraput, ragi growers here are finding themselves in the same situation after the State government closed mandis from March 1. Around 6,000 quintal ragi in Lamataput, Nandapur, Pottangi, Koraput, Narayanpatana and Bandhugam blocks is lying unsold.
For Kharif 2020-21, the district-level procurement committee had set a target to procure 71,000 quintal ragi from across 14 blocks of which 10 were covered under Odisha Millets Mission. The Tribal Development Cooperative Corporation (TDCC) outlet in Sunabeda was selected as the procurement agency for ragi procurement.
Accordingly, around 22,000 farmers had registered to sell upto 2 quintal per acre in over 42 mandis set up by TDCC in the district for the purpose. By end of February, 71,000 quintal of ragi as targeted was procured following which the government issued order to close down the mandis from March 1. But the decision did not go down well with over 700-800 farmers in Lamataput, Nandapur, Pottangi, Koraput, Narayanpatana and Bandhugam blocks who could not sell around 6,000 quintal ragi.
Sources said this year, the farmers had produced up to 10 quintal ragi per acre due to favourable climatic condition and were hopeful of selling all stock to the government. But they were left dejected after mandis shut down. “We have come here to sell our ragi stock but officials closed the mandis without any notice,” said Gangadhar, a ragi garmer from Lamataput, who demanded that the administration should reopen mandis and dispose of remaining stock.
Official sources said on Wednesday, Koraput Collector Md Abdaal Akhtar asked the sub collectors of Jeypore and Koraput to provide physical verification details of ragi in the mandis after which he would send a report to the government over fixing another procurement target.
Branch manager of TDCC who is in charge of ragi procurement said the agency has procured the given target and unsold surplus will be lifted only after further instructions from higher authorities. Paddy procurement in Koraput had been riddled with problems as around 2,865 farmers were left in the lurch with over 90,000 quintal unsold paddy and had to resort to distress sale out of desperation.
Farmers’ march over unsold paddy
Umerkote: Annoyed over paddy procurement irregularities, around 3,000 farmers of Nabarangpur gathered at Chandahandi and kickstarted a rally - slated to cover around 130 kms in the district - on Wednesday. Crossing through villages of Jharigaon, Umerkote, Dabugaon and Papadahandi blocks, the march will finally reach district headquarters on March 8. “We had no option left but to hold this rally which will end at Nabarangpur. We will submit a memorandum to the government through Collector Dr A K Mishra,” said farmer leader Khemraj Bagh.
The memorandum, demanding action against mandi mismanagement and those involved in the scam, procurement of unsold paddy from all mandis in the district and immediate payment to farmers who haven’t received money after selling their paddy, will be submitted on March 9. Nabarangpur has around 80 per cent agrarian population in absence of industries.
The government has set up mandis in each block to provide farmers with fair prices for their agricultural produce but farmers say that has become a far cry. Brokers in connivance with supply department officials have forced farmers to sell paddy for less than the MSP, they allege. Around 1.5 lakh quintals of paddy has been lying unsold in the district, including some at the house of the farmers.