ROURKELA: Paddy procurement is yet to gain pace in Sundargarh district but the notorious ‘katni-chhatni’ (cut) practice and deduction in Minimum Support Price (MSP) have returned to haunt the farmers during the ongoing kharif marketing season.
Paddy procurement began from December 15 with an initial target of 22.31 lakh quintal through 134 paddy procurement centres (PPCs). Sources said the practice of deduction of paddy locally known as ‘katni-chhatni’ during procurement by rice mill agents at the PPCs is all pervasive now.
Six days back, farmers had protested the millers’ attempt to deduct four kg from one quintal of paddy at the Bhedabahal Large And Multi-Purpose Cooperative Society (LAMPCS). On the other hand, at the Mahulpali PPC in Sundargarh sub-division, around 20 farmers reportedly agreed for deduction of 2.5 kg per quintal to avoid hassles.
‘Katni-chhatni’ is done on the plea of foreign material, husk, straw and grain moisture content present in paddy. An official involved in the procurement process claimed there are no clear guidelines for such deduction. Farmers are expected to bring Fair Average Quality (FAQ) standard paddy to the mandis and get MSP of `2,040 per quintal. It is learnt that PPCs at mandis are not checking FAQ standard of paddy leaving farmers at the mercy of agents of rice mills.
Sundargarh MLA Kusum Tete said she has been receiving several allegations of exploitation of farmers on the pretext of ‘katni-chhanti’ and denial of full MSP. Farmers are practically getting `200-`300 less than the MSP. Apart from deduction of three to five kg paddy from a quintal, the farmers are additionally forced to bear the cost of gunny bags, strings and handling charges at the PPCs, she said. The legislator blamed nexus among unscrupulous rice mill owners, authorities of LAMPCS and Food Supplies & Consumer Welfare department for the suffering of farmers.
Bonai Krishak Sangh president Dambrudhar Kishan cited similar allegations from Jakeikela and a few other PPCs of Bonai sub-division. He said poor and hapless farmers silently accept the exploitation under fear of their tokens getting lapsed.
Deputy registrar of cooperative societies Deshmohan Sethi said till December 23, about 42,700 quintal paddy was procured from 1,098 farmers, while Sundargarh civil supplies officer (CSO) DC Beshra claimed procurement is going on smoothly and gaining pace. He denied receiving any complaints from farmers.
Farmers-millers on same page over procurement
Jeypore: Farmers of villages under Ambaguda, Jayantigiri, Hadia panchayats in Koraput district joined in the ensuing paddy procurement process following an amicable settlement between them and millers over providing extra paddy for non-FAQ type on Monday. The farmers had threatened to dump their produce on NH 26 , near Kumuliput over a stalemate with middlemen who were adamant on deduction of two kg paddy per quintal during procurement. Sources said the farmers agreed to provide three kg extra paddy per quintal to compensate the millers for non-FAQ paddy. After the agreement, procurement process started at Kumuliput and Jayantigiri mandis on Monday. Official sources said around 6,000 quintal paddy was lifted at the mandis on the day.