Scarcity of groundnut seeds affecting farmers

Kendrapara: With subsidised priced seeds remaining out of reach, hundreds of groundnut farmers in the district, already hit by September floods, are left in the lurch. With time running out fast for sowing, the economically backward farmers have seemingly lost hope for taking up the cash crop cultivation this year. Reports indicate, two-third of the groundnut crop areas are still lying uncultivated.

Seeds have apparently disappeared from government-run sales counters. Over 7,000 hectares of agriculture fields in the district are covered under this cash crop. And unavailability of seeds at the government sales counters has let down the small and marginal farmers. However, moneyed farmers, who constitute hardly 10% of cultivators, have begun sowing.

There is acute shortage of groundnut seeds. The farmers requirement stands at 1600 quintal. On the other hand, the supply from the agriculture directorate has so far been a meagre 135 quintal. "We are helpless. For obvious reason, the hard-pressed farmers are seething with anger," an agriculture department official said.

The seeds supplied by the directorate of agriculture have been diverted elsewhere. Most prospective buyers have not received a single seed grain. The price of seeds in government counters is Rs 2,500 per quintal. "Unscrupulous traders have taken advantage of the situation and are selling the seeds at Rs 5,000 per quintal," Haribandhu Rout, a groundnut farmer from Bedari village, alleged.

District agriculture department officials said the supply of high-yielding seeds would commence within a week. "There has been delay in dispatch of seeds consignment. That has resulted in delay in distribution", they said. The officials asked the growers to have patience stating that there was still "ample time left" for sowing.

Since the sowing operation can continue at least for three weeks from now, arrangements are being made to provide seeds to farmers at the earliest, official sources said. The scarce availability of seeds is mainly due to the fact that a large number of farmers have opted for cultivating groundnut this year, they said.

Agriculture analysts said the prospect of farming had not been properly assessed in time, leading to the shortfall of seeds. Kendrapara Collector Pradipta Kishore Pattnaik said, "the administration is aware of the plight of farmers. All arrangements are being made so that the seeds can be made available to the needy farmers within a short notice."