Paddy seeds for kharif cultivation out of farmers’ reach in Kendrapara

The district faces natural disasters such as floods, cyclones, and droughts every year.
Representative Image.
Representative Image.

KENDRAPARA: The fate of many farmers in the coastal district of Kendrapara hangs in the balance as officials are yet to provide sufficient paddy seeds for kharif cultivation. The farmers allege government seed supply centres across all nine blocks of the district have failed to stock adequate paddy seeds.

Previously, farmers from seaside villages relied on local saline-tolerant paddy varieties to protect their crops from saline water intrusion during tidal waves caused by low pressures and cyclones. “For over a decade, authorities have not provided these saline-tolerant seeds, such as Lunishree, forcing farmers to use normal paddy seeds that are vulnerable to saline water, resulting in frequent crop losses,” alleged a farmer from Batighar village Arjun Mandal.

Farmers of Kendrapara district plan to cultivate paddy over 1,24,600 hectare, requiring about 49,840 quintal of seeds. Yet, the Agriculture department has only received 451 quintal of paddy seeds from the Odisha Seed Corporation (OSC) so far, said chief district agriculture officer (CDAO) of Kendrapara Manas Kumar Chand.

“More seeds are expected to arrive soon as many farmers start cultivating after the monsoon’s arrival. Approximately 3.6 lakh families in the district depend on agriculture for their livelihood. Some hybrid seeds are saline-tolerant, and farmers in coastal areas should use these,” he added.

Not all farmers need seeds from the Agriculture department since many preserve their seeds at home or purchase from markets. “We distribute seeds through 118 primary cooperative societies in the district,” added Chand.

Many farmers have been struggling to get seeds to plant paddy saplings, claimed a farmers’ leader and president of the district unit of Krusaka Sabha, Gayadhar Dhal. “Seed businessmen from Andhra Pradesh, West Bengal, and other states are currently in the district to supply seeds,” Dhal added.

The district faces natural disasters such as floods, cyclones, and droughts every year. Allegations have surfaced that agricultural and block officials profited by not providing subsidised seeds to farmers.

These officials sell seeds to private traders, forcing farmers to buy substandard seeds at higher prices, alleged farmers’ leader Ramani Ranjan Samal. The official rate for certified paddy seeds is Rs 3,350 per quintal, but farmers are compelled to purchase substandard seeds for Rs 4,000 due to shortage, said a farmer from Ichapur village, Bhikari Mohanty.

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