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Somatirtha Purohit

Bumper yield failed to bring cheer and joy to farmers in Odisha as their perennial foe- cyclone- once again threatens to rob them of their returns.

Farmers in Gajapati district are likely to be impacted by the approaching cyclone in the Bay of Bengal as they do not have adequate space to store their produce and mandis are not open yet.

Due to lack of storage facilities the farmers have been forced to make distress sell of their produce at throw away price.

As per reports, in the intervening night of Monday and Tuesday, tons of paddy were transported to Andhra Pradesh for sell while middlemen made hay.

Though the farmers were not in favour of selling their hard earned crop at cheaper price, the prospects of damages due to incessant rains and following pest attack left them with little option.

The Odisha University of Agriculture & Technology (OUAT) on Monday issued an advisory to farmers in view of expected rainfall in the State triggered by a low pressure between November 30 and December 2.

The premier institute's experts have advised farmers across the State to harvest 85% ripe paddy as soon as possible before the spells of rain begin. Furthermore, the farmers have been advised to perform threshing and cleaning works to dislodge the grains, if possible, or simply store their produce in a safe place and cover it with plastic sheets. This will protect the stock from getting wet.

“Mandis are not open yet, we are selling our produce to Andhra at a cheaper price to save our crops from getting destroyed. We would have made more profit if we had sold it in Odisha,” said a farmer.

For the current year, the government has set the paddy procurement price at Rs 1,940 per quintal. However, due to the approaching calamity the farmers are forced to sell it at Rs 900-1,000 per quintal, reports stated.

“In Gajapati paddy is being produced in almost 35,000 hectares, but the unseasonal rain last month has already destroyed 20,000 hectares. The farmers are compelled to sell their produce to protect it from being rotten,” said Surya Narayan Pattnaik, President of District farmers association.

When asked, the food supply officer said that mandis will be opened in the last week of December and farmers can sell their produce to anyone till then. “We have given instructions to farmer leaders to protect the produce in any kind of unfavourable condition. Mandis will open on December 28,” said Anadi Charan Sethi, district food supply officer.

It is worth mentioning here that a Low Pressure area is likely to form over south Andaman Sea by today evening. As per the India Meteorological Department (IMD), the system is likely to move west-north-westwards and concentrate into a Depression over southeast and adjoining east-central Bay of Bengal during subsequent 48 hours.

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