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Sanjeev Kumar Patro

Bhubaneswar: The Odisha State Assembly is virtually in turmoil for the second consecutive day on Friday. The opposition – BJP and Congress – are in a paddy over the ‘messy paddy procurement’ by the State government.

The entire opposition was up in arms today. And the grim news from Nuapada came in the evening hours, where a farmer is reportedly had committed suicide for failing to sell his paddy produce. Reports allege that due to the expiry of the token period, the farmer couldn’t sell his produce. And feeling distressed, he consumed poison to kill himself.

Significantly, the opposition has exactly upped its ante on the same issue in the house today.

After enforcing adjournment of the house in the morning, senior congress leader Narasingha Mishra said,

“Besides the problem of procuring a quintal of paddy after deducting around 5 per cent of paddy as non-conforming to mentioned standards, the new headache for the farmers in the State is they are unable to sell their paddy for the reason of lapse of the token period. We think this is a strategy of the government to procure less paddy.”

The main opposition BJP, which today trooped to the well of the house with placards and adorning colourful gowns depicting the portraits of ‘messy paddy procurement and distressed farmers’, lambasted the State government for creating a ‘chaotic procurement scenario’ in the State.

BJP deputy leader in the House BC Sethi demanded the early procurement of paddy and payment of transportation cost to farmers. He said,

"The Centre has been providing funds for paddy procurement, but the state government is not properly utilising the money sent."

WHY HUE AND CRY OVER PADDY PROCUREMENT?

As per the latest data available with the State Cooperative department, over 10 lakh farmers have sold their paddy produce at MSP in mandis operated by Primary Agriculture Credit Societies (PACS) and other State-run agencies.

But the number of farmers registered in the State to sell their paddy stood at a whopping 14.706 lakh. This year’s Kharif paddy procurement season will end on March 31.

The data shows only 68 per cent of the registered farmers had sold their paddy produce at MSP to date. While the paddy procurement season 2021 had started in November 2020, and when roughly only 40 days are left, farmers in the State are feeling quite restive.

WHY FARMERS ARE RESTIVE?

Despite procuring a massive over 54 lakh metric tonne paddy, which is a record to date, the State government is still at the receiving ends of both the farmers and opposition.

A detailed glance at the data shows while the registration of farmers for selling paddy at MSP zoomed to over 14.7 lakh in 2020-21 from over 12 lakh in 2019-20, the number of registered farmers who could actually sell their produce at state government runs mandis hovered at around 10 lakh only.

Sample the reason.

  • In the year 2015-16, the number of farmers in Odisha who availed the paddy procurement at MSP stood at 10.78 lakh.
  • In 2016-17, the number rose to over 11lakh.
  • In 2017-18: The number of farmers tumbled down to 7.98lakh.
  • In 2018-19: The total farmers who availed of the MSP stood at 10.1 lakh.
  • In 2019-20: The total count stood at around 10 lakh only.
  • As of date in 2020-21, the number stood at around 10.07 lakh.

In contrast, the number of registered farmers has grown by 3-fold during the period of 2015-21.

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