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Sharmili Mallick

Gajapati: After bearing the brunt of cyclone Titli in October, millet farmers in Gajapati district of Odisha are staring at uncertainty with no mandis in the area to sell their produce. With no other alternative, millet farmers are now on the verge of selling their produce to middlemen and local traders at much lower prices.

As per reports, thousands of farmers in Mohana, R Udaigiri, Nuagada, Rayagad and Gumma blocks of the district shifted from maize cultivation to millet farming in the past few years owing to natural calamities.

This year, millet farming was done in around 3000 hectare land in Gajapati district. However, it is alleged that due to the callousness of the administration in opening mandis in the area, farmers are being forced to sell their products to traders and middlemen at lower rates.

"We have been doing millet farming since the last few years but as the government has not taken adequate measures to open mandis in the area, we often fall prey to middlemen and incur losses. As a result, millet farming is declining in the region," said farmer Kamal Lochan Rayit.

Another millet farmer of Gajapati, Naresh Rayit said, "I was doing maize farming but due to flood and other natural calamities, I had to suffer huge losses. Later, I shifted to millet cultivation but as there is no proper mandi to sell our products, we are being forced to sell our produce in distress."

"The Government has decided to procure millets at Rs 2,028 per quintal from the farmers through LAMPS and Millet Mission. This is a good step by the government to prevent farmers from going for distressed sale," said Managing Director (MD) of LAMPS in R.Udayagiri, Mimansha Kumar Satpathy.

"Two procurement centres from LAMPS have been opened at Udayagiri and Ramagiri and we hope to procure 1500-2000 quintal millet from the 800 registered farmers of R Udayagiri block," informed district co-ordinator of Millet Mission, Raghunath Sahoo.

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