Bargarh: The Kharif paddy procurement process in Bargarh district Wednesday has completed nine working days. However, like every other time, many farmers in the district are reeling under the problem of tokens, a source said Thursday.
Take the cases of Suresh Nekanti or Ekadashia Sahu from Kalapani village in the district that highlight what ails paddy procurement system in the district.
Ekadashia says, “The government has introduced the token system to exploit farmers. At the time of registration, we had written a possible selling day in the intended form. But instead of looking at it, the selling day has been delayed by a month.”
Ekadashia further alleged that the department officials hatched a conspiracy by having an unscrupulous nexus with millers and traders. “The longer the day of sale in tokens, the more the farmers will suffer and will eventually be forced to sell the harvested paddy to traders at a lower price,” he added.
Meanwhile, Suresh has been bringing paddy to Kalapani mandi (procurement centre) for the last 15 days. But the tokens he received mention December 28 as the procurement day.
“It is unfortunate that despite repeatedly informing the administration about the delay in procurement, nothing has come of it. The department officials suggested we take up such problems through primary agricultural cooperative societies, but that too is of no use. Many farmers in Attabira area had filed similar applications but that did not fructify,” Suresh alleged.
Even after the paddy was harvested, the procurement date was delayed in tokens received at the mandis (procurement centre). As a result, farmers were unable to sell their harvested paddy, the source added.
According to the source, the farmers had demanded that the mandis in Bargarh district to open by November 15. However, that didn’t happen. The farmers, instead, were only issued tokens mentioning procurement dates ranging between December 28 and the first week of January 2024.
While farmers have been bringing paddy to the mandis since second week of November in the hope of early procurement and avoid logistical challenges, the mandis only started functioning November 21. This delayed procurement has meant that the centres have run out of space and farmers are not in a position to store their harvest anywhere near it.
With a cyclone brewing in Bay of Bengal and heavy rains expected, some of the farmers have resigned themselves to their fates. Meanwhile, several other farmers in this migration-prone district are angry over the administrative apathy and have warned of protests.
“We have spent a lot of money in cultivation. With so much to pay in wages in all stages of farming, it is barely profitable. Many of us have taken loans. If the administration doesn’t do anything to improve procurement speed, we stare at a dark future. The government should be held responsible if the farmers take to the streets,” said another farmer without revealing his name.
Farmers from Kalapani area of Bargarh district Wednesday brought the issue to the notice of district Collector Monisha Banerjee. Meanwhile, Chief Supply Officer Dashrathi Soren could not be contacted for his comment in this regard.