Amid drought, Odisha revises paddy procurement norms

Bhubaneswar: In view of the drought situation which has affected crops in 173 blocks, the Odisha government has has revised its paddy procurement policy.

According to sources, the Food Supplies and Consumer Welfare department has reduced paddy procurement targets in the affected blocks. A letter from the department secretary to the district collectors revealed that in regions where there have been 40% crop loss, the stipulated productivity rate will be assumed as 33% lower or 8 quintals per acre. As per earlier calculation, the production was pegged at 12 quintals per acre for non-irrigated land. Based on this revised calculation, the paddy will be procured from the said area.

In a similar manner, the department has revised the targets keeping in mind four different scenarios based on the extent of crop loss. According to the new guidelines, if the crop loss is less than 33%, there will be no revision to the productivity rate from the land.

For 34-50% crop loss, productivity rate will be assumed at 33% lower than normal; for crop loss between 51 to 66%, 50% lower and for crop loss between 67-100 %, production will be considered at 66% lower than normal.

“We have informed the Collectors about the change in productivity rate based on the volume of crop loss,” said Madhusudan Padhi, secretary, Food Supplies and Consumer Welfare.

However, the farmers’ association has criticized the revised guidelines. “There are different kinds of farmers in a particular area and the administration has failed to account for such difference. The administration is saying that they will address the problem, however, they are yet to have any clue about devising a system which would assist every kind of farmers” said a farmer leader.

On the other hand, doubts prevail over the disbursement of special drought assistance announced by chief minister Naveen Patnaik.

Notably, the farmers of the drought affected areas will get an assistance of Rs 100 per quintal after they have sold their produce to the government. However, according to sources, the registration of farmers for disbursement of this assistance is yet to be complete. On account of the same, concerns are being raised about identifying the affected farmers and disbursing the drought assistance announced by the government.

‘We are aiming to ensure that none of the affected persons are left out as was the case during cyclone Phailin,” said Padhi.