Farmers in Odisha on Wednesday opposed the Odisha government’s amendments in the paddy procurement automation system (P-PAS).
Amidst the protest, the State Food Supplies and Consumer Welfare Department claimed that new amendments in the P-PAS will help farmers and Societies to manage day-to-day paddy procurement operations in ‘mandis’.
What changes have been made in the procurement of paddy for the Rabi crop?
Only Aadhaar Authenticated Vendor Receipts will be linked to Transit Pass-cum-Ac Note (Un-Authenticated Vendor Receipt process has been disabled in P-PAS)
After ‘mandi arrival’, token can be kept ‘on hold’ due to field issues like medical case of a farmer, unavailability of farmer, eye problem for IRIS etc.
The token can be rolled back by Society within the token validity period in ‘Unhold Token’ section.
If a farmer returns paddy from mandi or paddy is not available with the farmer, the Society can ‘cancel’ the mandi arrival and that token will be cancelled permanently.
So, as per the new rule, a farmer needs to be physically present at a mandi for the sale of his paddy. Besides, a society can withhold a farmer’s token by giving a proper reason following which the token will not be visible in the purchase list.
However, once the society ‘un-holds’ the token and the mandi arrival is rolled back, it will be available in the list again for purchase. These ‘hold’ and ‘unhold’ processes are applicable only for active tokens and those which are valid for purchase.
What do farmers say?
A farmer or a relative of an actual owner of a piece of land was earlier able to sell paddy by submitting valid authorisation. Now, many a farmer will not be able to sell their paddy, said Birendra Kara, a farmer from Bargarh district.
This new rule, which will prohibit so many farmers from selling their paddy, is nothing more than a conspiracy against the farmers, he alleged.
Netrananda Behera, a Sonepur farmer, said, “My land is in my father’s name who is no more. We are three brothers; now, how can we sell the paddy? The government should make rules by taking the reality into consideration.”
The Odisha government should repeal the law as from a landowner to a sharecropper, all will suffer due to these new norms, said Prahallad Bag, a Kalahandi farmer.
What does the Opposition allege?
“By bringing in such norms, who does the Odisha government want to benefit? Who will sell the paddy of a farmer in case of any eventuality? If a society gets the power to hold or cancel a token, the monopoly of the millers will only increase,” said State BJP Krushak Morcha president, Pradeep Purohit.
Congress MLA Narasingha Mishra said that the new paddy procurement norms will only lead to the exploitation of the farmers in Odisha. This will ruin the life of farmers, he added.
Here’s what the ruling BJD says:
Responding to the allegations and speaking on the new amendments, BJD leader Lenin Mohanty said, “Immediate family members of farmers are allowed to go (to the mandis) and take part in the technical process.”
"However, the money will only be credited to the bank account of the actual farmer," said Mohanty.