Paddy MSP hike by Chhattisgarh: The allure & anticipation in Odisha

Bhubaneswar: Soon after coming to power in Chhattisgarh, the Congress government announced a hike in the minimum support price (MSP) of paddy to Rs 2,500 per quintal from Rs 1,750. While the announcement is seen as an act against the guidelines that restrict States in the country from declaring bonus for paddy over and above the MSP fixed by the Centre, the Bhupesh Bagel-government’s decision has not only stoked anticipation among Odisha farmers, but also is expected to lure farmers in bordering areas to jump the fence for a better price.

Chhattisgarh’s decision is believed to have diverted many of their middlemen to buy paddy from Odisha and sold it at a much higher price in the neighboring state. Besides, farmers in several places in bordering districts of Nuapada and Kalahandi have already made up their mind to sell their paddy in the neighboring state, said sources.

Amid the hassles in paddy procurement, including inordinate delay in payment and the practice of millers seeking volume concessions citing fair average quality (‘katni chhatni’); many experts believe that farmers will be more than happy to consider selling their paddy in Chhattisgarh.

“We are selling our paddy to Chhattisgarh as the MSP is high there; we are getting good profit in the process. Besides, their mandi is only 4 kms away from here,” said one Odisha farmer, Nilambar.

“Odisha government is involved in all types of corruption. Our relatives are in Chhattisgarh and so we will sell our paddy in their name and get Rs 400-Rs 500 more,” said another farmer, Sukanta.

Interestingly Odisha Food Supplies minister Surjya Narayan Patro said that if the farmers of the State are getting better prices by selling their paddy in Chhattisgarh, there is no harm in it.

On being asked why the Odisha government is not implementing such a scheme, Patro said that the guidelines don’t allow such practice and if a state does so, the Food Corporation of India (FCI) will not procure additional quantity of rice and the concerned state government will be responsible for any surplus.

“As the Government of India has restricted us, we are forced to abstain from announcing any extra bonus. And if the Centre supports Chhattisgarh, we will take up the matter with it.”

Odisha BJP vice-president Samir Mohanty said “The State government creating an ambiguous environment by spreading lies. Chhattisgarh government eked out a new way to support their farmers and gave bonuses through cheques. Why the Odisha government is not doing the same?”