Bhubaneswar: With an aim to stop distress sale and provide right price to farmers for their agricultural produce, the Odisha government is planning to bring an ordinance for ‘contract farming’ in the State, said sources.

As per the new proposed law, companies chosen by the State government will sign contracts with farmers in the State to provide technical assistance and procure harvest at pre-decided prices.

Cooperation minister Surya Narayan Patro, who held a road show in Gurugram , New Delhi, recently to woo investors ahead of the biennial ‘Make In Odisha’ conclave scheduled to be held from November 11-15, stated that as many as 50 companies have agreed to participate in the summit in Odisha.

“Companies who will participate in contract farming will provide guidelines for vegetable production so that the agricultural produce will fetch good prices in international and national markets. Farmers will get their dues the day when their product will be procured from them,” added Patro.

Meanwhile, farmer leaders have raised doubts over the motive of the State government behind such a mechanism and said the move might adversely affect the livelihood of small and medium farmers.

“Contract farming is a conspiracy to handover the land of small and medium farmers to companies. Definitely, this will harm farmers and the farming sector in the State,” said Lingaraj, a farmer leader.

Opposition parties also targeted the government saying that in the month of June it was being said that 1,500 companies will be invited for contract farming while now the figure has come down to 50.

“The ‘Udyan Fresh’ scheme was functioning in the same manner. It used to procure vegetables from farmers and sell them in the markets. However, the scheme has become a failure. The Odisha govt has never been serious about farmers and the farming sector. Contract farming is a poll ‘jumla’ (gimmick) only,” said BJP spokesperson, Golak Mohapatra.

Echoing similar views, President of Odisha Congress farmer cell, Amiya Patnaik said “This government has turned a blind eye to the issues of farmers. Even though we welcome the contract farming concept, the policy of the State government is only meant to loot farmers.”

At a time when the sharecropper legislation has been put on the backburner, it remains to be seen how far the proposed contract farming ordinance will benefit the farmers of the State.

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