Vikash Sharma

Bhubaneswar: At a time when farmers across Odisha are grappling with problems due to lapses in mandis, claims of Odisha Food Supplies and Consumer Welfare Minister, Surjya Narayan Patro that paddy procurement target has been achieved, has drawn the ire of opposition parties.

While speaking to reporters, Patro today informed that paddy is being procured at mandis from farmers at Minimum Support Price (MSP) of Rs 1,750 per quintal. He further said that this time more number of mandis were opened as compared to last year to ensure smooth paddy procurement. However, there are problems in some mandis over fair average quality (FAQ) and steps are being taken to resolve the issues, he added.

Despite the minister’s claim, farmers in several parts of the State are still waiting to sell their produce in mandis. In Narsinghpur block of Cuttack district, farmers today resorted to road blockade alleging that millers are not coming to the mandis. Not only Narasinghpur, farmers in Sonepur also alleged that mandis are locked and millers are missing.

It is now over four days that 6,000 bags of paddy are lying at Tarbod mandi in Nuapada district due to disputes over fair average quality.

“Neither millers nor administrative officials are coming. We are forced to guard our paddy here braving extreme cold conditions,” said Pramod Guru, a Sonepur farmer.

Meanwhile, opposition parties criticized Minister SN Patro’s statements and accused gross irregularities in paddy procurement.

“The farmers are not getting the right price for their produce. The minister is giving such statements to save his chair and to please CM Naveen Patnaik,” alleged Congress Krushak Cell chairperson, Amiya Pattnaik.

BJP leader Golak Mohapatra stated that “State government is not procuring paddy from farmers in mandis while officials and minister are making false claims here in Bhubaneswar.”