Pradeep Pattanayak

Despite the fact that the government’s paddy procurement policy has considerably failed in the rice bowl of Odisha, Bargarh, the farmers are a happy lot here. 

The reason, the varieties of paddy they are growing are high in demand in Andhra Pradesh as their rice is best for preparing ‘Idli’ and ‘Dosa’, the most sought-after food items in the neighbouring State. The traders from the other side of the State are procuring the paddy from them, even paying higher than the price they would have fetched from the government. 

In Bargarh district, as many as 77,000 farmers were registered to sell their Rabi paddy.  While the procurement will stop after two weeks’ time, so far 47,000 quintals of paddy have been procured from 67,000 farmers. This means, paddy from 10,000 farmers has not been procured as yet. 

At the same time, as per the government rule, a farmer can sell 26 quintals per hectare. But here, farmers have harvested 34 to 36 quintals per hectare. 

Given the failure of the paddy procurement, the above-mentioned 10,000 farmers and the ones who have reaped over 26 quintals per acre would have suffered a huge loss had the Andhra Pradesh traders not appeared in the scene. 

Bargarh farmers are growing ‘Aakashganga’ and ‘101’ varieties of paddy. The rice of these paddy varieties are the best for preparing ‘Idli’ and ‘Dosa’. In the neighbouring State, people of the neighbouring state can’t think of breakfast without these two food items. So the traders of this State can now be seen on any day making a beeline in Bargarh to procure the paddy. 

What is more, they are procuring lakhs of quintals of paddy, paying even much more than what the government would have paid to them. They are paying Rs 2,200 per quintal. 

The demand for their paddy in Andhra Pradesh has proved to be a boon for these farmers who would otherwise have to face distress sale. They would also have to deal with ‘Katni Chhatni’ issue. 

“We reap 35 to 36 quintals of paddy from a hectare. The government is procuring 26 quintals per hectare. What would we have done with the rest of the paddy had the Andhra traders not procured them,” rued Kishore Swain, a farmer. 

“We are happy that our rice has buyers from Andhra Pradesh,” said Swain. 

Another farmer C H Bhaskar Rao said, “We don’t have to worry about taking our paddy to paddy procurement centre or market as the Andhra traders are lifting our rice from our houses.”

Expressing his happiness, a farmer leader, Birendra Kar said the traders from Andhra Pradesh side are eager to procure the variety of paddy we are growing for its requirement in making ‘Idli’ or for reasons. They are buying without ‘Katni Chhatni’. “If the State government wants to buy the rice at the price we are getting from Andhra traders, we are ready to give them to the former,” said Kar. 

When contacted, CSO of Bargarh, Dasrathi Soren said, “There is no report of distress paddy sale in the district. If farmers are getting more than the MSP, they are free to sale to anyone, anywhere.”

The general trend is that traders from Chhattisgarh would normally procure paddy from Bargarh district. But this time, Andhra Pradesh traders have lined up at farmers’ houses.