Chikiti: Farmers in 17 panchayats of this block in Ganjam district suffered major crop loss due to pest attack and unseasonal rains. It was reported that 70 per cent crops were damaged due to these reasons.
While the farmers expected to make up part of their losses by selling the remaining produce, the inordinate delay by the administration to open procurement centres has left them in the lurch.
Many farmers were seen selling their stocks to Andhra Pradesh traders through the middlemen at prices much less than that the minimum support price (MSP) fixed by the government.
Earlier, the government had directed the concerned authorities to open mandis at various panchayats of the block at the earliest and collect paddy at MSP. However, there are no signs of the procurement centres anywhere in the block.
Meanwhile, paddy consignments are being smuggled into Andhra Pradesh in hundreds of tractors and trucks on a daily basis. The farmers would have sold their entire harvest to meet their daily needs by the time administration opened paddy procurement centres, locals said.
Traders from AP collect hundreds of sacks of paddy from the area under the very nose of the administration, they alleged. According to reports, a racket, active in Turubudi, Nuapada and Digapahandi areas of the block, has left the rice millers jobless at the moment.
The government has set a target of collecting 3, 48, 327 quintals of paddy from 17 panchayats of Chikiti at the rate of 35.91 quintals of paddy from each hectare. While pest attack and unseasonal rains are likely to hit the target, the AP traders can only make the matter worst.
Meanwhile, the delay in opening of mandis has forced farmers to resort to distress sale and resentment is brewing over the issue.
When contacted, agriculture officer Niranjan Behera said the block administration has decided to open the mandis from December 21 to procure paddy from the farmers through cooperative societies. PNN