BARGARH: Protesting distress sale and lack of marketing facilities for their produce, hundreds of farmers under the banner of ‘Jai Kisan Andolan’ dumped huge quantity of vegetables at Dasmail Chowk in Sohela block on Tuesday. At around 10 am in the morning, the agitating farmers dumped around five quintal vegetables on Kolkata-Mumbai highway and distributed it among passersby for free. They even stopped buses and trucks and distributed the vegetables to drivers and passengers.
Member of the outfit Ramesh Mahapatra said adding to the Covid woes of farmers, the drought-like situation has severely affected the kharif paddy production. Though the State government has asked to opt for non-paddy crops, farmers are yet to be provided with any facilities to take up vegetable farming.
“In absence of marketing facilities, vegetable growers have fallen victim to distress sale. Besides, there is no railway connectivity to other big cities where our vegetables could be sold,” Mahapatra complained.
Sources said almost all farmers of Bargarh grow non-paddy crops especially vegetables apart from paddy. Reportedly, over 40 varieties of vegetables are grown in the district. But in absence of cold storage and market yards, farmers are forced to sell their produce at a throwaway price. On an average, they get Rs 15-Rs 20 per kg for most of the vegetables from middlemen but the produce is sold for almost the double in market.
Convenor of Paschim Odisha Krushak Sangathan Samanwaya Samiti (POKSSS) Lingaraj said the problem is not new for farmers. “Every year, tomato and brinjal growers resort to distress sale but this time, all vegetables are being sold at throwaway prices. Instead of being exploited by middlemen, we thought it better to dump these vegetables on roads or give it free to people,” he said.
He further said cold storage and market yards for vegetables have been a long pending demand and it cannot be resolved anytime soon. However, the least the State government can do is to declare MSP and arrange marketing facilities. The agitation continued till noon but no one from the district administration came to meet the farmers.