Tardy procurement, Odisha farmers resort to distress sale

Also, apart from land owners, a part of the paddy was cultivated by share-croppers who had taken loan for the same.
Image used for representational purposes only. (Express Illustrations)
Image used for representational purposes only. (Express Illustrations)

BERHAMPUR: Delay in the procurement of paddy by the administration has reportedly forced farmers of Gajapati and Ganjam districts to opt for the distress sale of their harvest. Sources said due to the delay, farmers preferred selling their paddy to traders in Andhra Pradesh at lower prices. Gosaninuagaon and Kashinagar farmers of Gajapati district said they cannot wait until the procurement centres are opened since their paddy are harvested and ready to be sold.

Also, apart from land owners, a part of the paddy was cultivated by share-croppers who had taken loan for the same. “Since festivals are drawing nearer and loan amounts need to be repayed, we cannot wait for the administration to begin the procurement process. So we prefer selling them to agents at lower prices,” they said.

Gajapati district Krushak Sangh president Surya Narayan Patnaik said due to the distress sale, farmers are giving away paddy at `1,150 per 83 kg sack of paddy, much lower than the price set by the government. He further complained that though the procurement process was scheduled to begin this month, the registered farmers have not yet received their tokens.

“The primary agriculture cooperative societies are also far from our villages. So we prefer selling them to traders at lower prices here,” said a farmer from Kashinagar S Rama Rao. Meanwhile in Ganjam, paddy procurement has been divided into three zones. While mandis in Bhanjanagar opened on December 16, in Berhampur they are functional since December 20 and those in Chhatrapur opened on December 23, said civil supplies officer (CSO) Puspa Munda.

“Measures have been taken to prevent distress sale of paddy. Around 1,30,259 farmers have registered their names for selling their harvest for which tokens have been issued,” said Munda urging farmers to sell their paddy at the procurement centres only. However some farmers alleged that though mandis have opened in Bhanjanagar, procurement did not start.

A farmer from Kathagada village under Ganjam’s Humma panchayat, on condition of anonymity, said the procurement centres in the district were not yet operational. “I sold 40 quintal paddy at a price of Rs 1,100 per kg. Even while the government has fixed the price at Rs 2,040 per quintal, we sell them to traders at lower prices since they come to our villages and buy them from us here,” he added.

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