Distress sale cry ahead of paddy purchase in Odisha's Sundargarh

Agriculture department sources admitted that distress sale remains a reality in the district which produces surplus paddy. Around 53,798 farmers have registered for the paddy procurement process.
File photo of a paddy procurement centre in Sundargarh district | Express
File photo of a paddy procurement centre in Sundargarh district | Express

ROURKELA: Ahead of paddy procurement, small and marginal farmers in need of immediate cash have reportedly resorted to distress sales in the tribal-dominated Sundargarh district. The practice is rampant in Tangarpali block where farmers are selling paddy at Rs 600-Rs 700 below the minimum support price (MSP) of Rs 2,183 per quintal. Similar reports are also pouring in from other parts of the district.

Sources said it is a common affair in the district every year as beleaguered farmers sell their paddy crops below the MSP to get cash immediately once the crops are harvested. Sundargarh MLA Kusum Tete said those resorting to distress sales are usually small and marginal farmers who have not registered themselves for the procurement process. The poor farmers start to feel the pressure of getting cash once their crops reach harvesting stages. They are constantly under pressure to repay borrowed money invested in the cultivation of paddy.

Besides, most of these farmers engage local farmhands for crop cutting on the promise of paying them labour costs at the earliest. Once the crops are harvested, the farmers cannot wait for long to get better prices and hence, start selling paddy at Rs 1,500-Rs 1,600 per quintal to meet their payment obligations, she claimed.

A farmer Sudesh Mahato of Nuagaon block said many people with marginal or small landholding do not take interest in registering themselves to sell paddy at MSP either due to unfamiliarity with the online registration process and token system or to avoid the complex process at the government procurement centres.

He said to get MSP, farmers have to collect tokens, transport their harvested crops to the assigned paddy procurement centres (PPCs) at their own cost and also face the practice of weight deduction ‘katni-chatni’. These farmers willingly sell their paddy at a lower price as their crops are lifted from their houses with immediate payment.

Agriculture department sources admitted that distress sale remains a reality in the district which produces surplus paddy. Around 53,798 farmers have registered for the paddy procurement process which is scheduled to start from December 15 in Sundargarh. The district-level paddy procurement committee has set an initial target to procure 18.94 lakh quintals of paddy through 134 PPCs which at best would subsequently be increased by another 3.5 lakh quintals. 

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