Odisha farmers left in lurch amid paddy procurement ‘irregularities’

Bhubaneswar/Bargarh/Balasore: All the promises, planning and preparations by the state government seem to be going up in smoke as allegations of irregularities and lapses have marred the paddy procurement process in the State. Paddy farmers in the State have alleged that while there has been a delay in opening of mandis, rice millers are also seeking unwarranted concessions.

Moreover, the farmers also alleged that they are also not receiving their payments within 24 to 72 hours of depositing the crop at mandis as promised by the State government. Some farmers alleged that they got their payments after seven to eight days of procurement.

A farmer from Kaptipada, Maheswara Patra said “Millers are deducting 10-12 kg paddy per quintal based on their whims. Therefore, we have been demanding an increase in minimum support price (MSP). When the neighbouring state has increased the MSP to Rs 2,500 per quintal, why the Odisha government is keeping it at Rs 1,750?”

Another farmer from Bargarh, Arupa Pradhan rued, “We are getting money after 7-8 days of procurement even though the State government promised that the amount will be disbursed in 2-3 days. We are facing a lot of difficulties.”

“The millers are asking for significant concessions and when we are questioning, they are not procuring from us,” stated Ganeswara Biswal, a farmer from Nilagiri.

It is pertinent to mention that the State Cabinet during a meeting in September decided that paddy procurement money will be credited to the bank account of farmers in three days of procurement and there will be no cuts or concessions on the quantity of paddy on account of FAQ.

Odisha Food Supplies Minister SN Patro had recently said that action will be taken against persons involved in purchasing paddy from farmers below the MSP.

“If anyone purchases paddy at rates higher that MSP, there’s no objection. But in case anyone purchases the crop below the MSP, action will be taken against the buyer,” Patro had said.