No takers for Bolangir farmers’ paddy stacks

Bolangir: Stacks of paddy lying under the open sky in many villages in Bolangir district have multiplied woes of the already worried farmers after the harvesting season is over, thanks to the state government’s month-old decision to open paddy procurement centres in western Odisha by December 1.

After the farmers’ demand to stop hoarding and black marketing of fertilisers fell on deaf ears, they managed to yield the season’s khariff crops with a hope to get back their invested money, large part of which was taken as loan from money lenders, soon. But it seems they have battle all odds in winter nights to save their paddy stacked in fields.

"I have borrowed Rs 20,000 from my village sahukar (local money lender) with high interest rate. The more time the government takes to open mandis, the more interest I have to pay,” said Sadhuram Bhuai, a worried farmer adding the sahukar has threatened not to lend next season if the amount is not returned within a fixed time.

The woes do not end here. The ‘dilly dallying’ attitude of the stat government to open these centres has also forced some to sell the produce to middlemen at much below the minimum support price (MSP) of paddy.  

“This time the crop is good. But how long we’ll wait for the mandis? We have decided to sell our produce at Rs 700-800 per quintal though the government has fixed Rs 1,250/quintal, said Mohan Bhuai, a farmer.

Non-issuance of identity cards to many has also become a hindrance in getting fertilizers and seeds at subsidized rates.

Meanwhile, lashing out at the ruling BJD senior Congress leader Narasimha Mishra said, “In 2002, the High Court judgment clearly said farmers in the state are being exploited by the government employees, mill owners and FCI. The Supreme Court also said FCI and the state government should buy paddy from growers at the MSP. I can’t understand why the government is delaying the procurement process?”

Earlier, on November 22, Minister for Food Supplies and Consumer Welfare Pratap Keshari Deb had conducted a review meeting in Bolangir to discuss the farmers’ issues.