Deogaon:The woes of cotton farmers in this block of Bolangir district who faced the wrath of natural calamities like Phethai, Titli and the subsequent floods followed by pest attacks may not end too soon.
Already facing the brunt of severe crop loss over last few months, the farmers have now been forced to resort to distress sale to recover their investments. Middlemen involved in the cotton trade are taking full advantage of the farmers’ miseries and the delay in setting up of mandis for procurement of cotton.
Angry farmers have repeatedly asked the district administration officials to set up local mandis or procurement centres, but to no avail. The official apathy has not only increased the losses suffered by the farmers but also put them in pitiable condition.
Now, farmers have turned to middlemen to recover whatever they can from the investments they had made to grow the crop. Local sources stated that the negligent attitude of the administration has prompted a large number of farmers to think whether they should continue cotton cultivation in future.
“We can sell our produce at proper prices only if mandis are opened. Though the concerned officials have assured us that the centres will function soon, nothing has happened. So, we have been forced to sell our produce to middlemen at nominal prices as we have to run families and also pay back loans taken from moneylenders and banks,” Agasti Padhan, a cotton farmer said.
According to official reports, cotton was grown on 844 hectares in Ramchandrapur, Desandh, Bandhapada, Dumerpita, Landapathar, Gaibahal and Hatisara under this block last year.
The state government has fixed the cotton price at Rs 5,400 per quintal, but due to delay in the opening of mandis, the farmers have been forced to sell their produce at much cheaper rates. “As the government agencies are not buying from us, we have been forced to depend on local traders,” farmer Suryamani Bhue said.
“Last year, the mandis opened late and the same situation has cropped up this year also. The administration has failed to address the issues of cotton farmers,” added Basudev Pradhan, another cotton farmer.
The farmers are hoping, seeing their plight, the district officials will open mandis soon. But that doesn’t look like happening in the near future and the woes of the farmers appear to continue.