Bissamcuttack: Quite like last year, the prospect of cotton distress sell is staring at farmers of Bissamcuttack block in Rayagada district this year. Local administration is yet to open a procurement centre in this block.
“It being the harvesting time for cotton, middlemen have started camping in this area. In absence of government-run procurement centres, these agents want to procure at low prices,” a farmer alleged while accusing the middlemen of cheating the farmers while weighing the cotton.
“Thousands of quintals of cotton are produced every year in our block. We are yet to understand why not a single procurement centre has so far been opened in the entire block,” asked another irked farmer.
When asked, an official of Cotton Corporation of India (CCI) Gunupur Kusuma Sudhakar said the regulated market committee (RMC) has not opened any procurement centre in Bissamcuttack block nor has the CCI been directed to procure the produce from farmers. “This is the reason why we have not started procuring cotton in this block,” said Sudhakar.
Sudhakar further alleged that the RMC is not taking any steps to save the cotton farmers from the middlemen.
Meanwhile, Gunupur RMC secretary Dalapati Karji said the cotton procurement centre is already functional at Chatikona area in Bissamcuttack block. “The staff of CCI should have gone there to procure cotton. But they are not doing this on pretext of staff shortage,” he added.
While the CCI official and RMC secretary differ on their versions, it seems none of them are interested to address the issue of procurement. Our reporter, on the other hand, found that the centre at Chatikona nonfunctional.
Notably, last year a procurement centre was opened at Chatikona after four months of farmers facing distress sale. Local cotton farmers hope that the administration will do better this time around.