Devbrat Patnaik

Bhubaneswar: Amid alleged irregularities in the distribution of tokens to farmers for the procurement of Kharif paddy, State Food Supplies & Consumer Welfare Minister Ranendra Pratap Swain on Sunday informed about the engagement of senior-level officials in several districts to ensure hassle-free paddy procurement in the current Kharif marketing season.

The minister stated that 12 officials of the Food and Cooperative departments have been assigned the responsibility of 12 districts so that there is no flaw in the system and paddy procurement process is also carried out smoothly.

Every day, these officials will supervise the paddy procurement in their respective districts and further ensure the process is neat and streamlined for the farmers who have registered themselves for selling their produce.

If required, the officials will also hold discussions with farmers, members of the Primary Agriculture Cooperative Societies (PACS) and local representatives to understand their problems and try to sort the prevailing issues.

This year, Food Supplies and Consumer Welfare Department introduced an online registration system in view of the pandemic situation. The State reportedly witnessed a 21 per cent growth in farmers' registration for procurement of paddy under the minimum support price (MSP) scheme for the 2020-21 Kharif season. Over 14.97 lakh farmers have registered themselves through the online system for the Kharif paddy procurement programme this year, in comparison to last year's tally of around 12.35 lakh farmers.

On the rising commodity prices, the minister said that steps are being taken to keep prices under check. "After the amendment to the Essential Commodities Act by the Central government, the State governments have almost no power to control prices of essential commodities like potatoes, edible oil etc. as before. Even with this little and limited authority, the Food Supplies and Consumer Welfare department is taking all possible steps to keep prices under check," he said.