Champua: Paddy cultivated under this block in Keonjhar district is being sold off to Jharkhand traders due to delay in opening of mandis. Farmers are resorting to distress sale to repay their loans and to prevent the paddy from rotting, sources said here Sunday. The farmers, who have worked round the clock to protect the paddy from elephants and pest attacks, have no option left. The delay in opening of mandis under the Large Areas Multipurpose Societies (LAMPS) scheme in this block has shattered their plans. Taking advantage of the situation, the paddy buyers in Jharkhand are exploiting the farmers and acquiring the product at throwaway prices. It means that the farmers are suffering huge losses. Despite the deficit, farmers are selling the paddy as they have nowhere to go. Sources said that the Champua LAMPS had opened mandis at Rajia, Jamudalak, Karanjia, Rimuli, and Kandra under the block last year. As a result, farmers could sell around 48,000 quintals of paddy as per the minimum support price (MSP) fixed by the Odisha government.
This year, over 1,400 farmers have registered their names to sell paddy. They were hoping that the mandis would procure 50,000 to 60,000 quintals. However, it has not happened. As a result farmers now find themselves at a crossroads and are unable to clear their loans or meet their expenses. Moreover, many farmers whose only means of livelihood is paddy cultivation are finding it difficult to meet their family expenses. They are also constantly being harried by the money lenders. Clueless, the farmers have been forced to resort to distress sale of their harvest. The Odisha government has fixed the MSP of FAQ variety of paddy at Rs 2,183 per quintal.
However, the farmers are selling paddy to buyers from Jharkhand at Rs 1,650 to Rs 1,700 per quintal. Even though the price is not according to their expectations, the farmers are getting rid of the produce. When contacted, Bibhuti Pradhan, MD of Champua LAMPS said the farmers who have registered their names can sell paddy after the mandis open in their respective areas. The mandis were expected to open in the first week of December but got delayed due to inclement weather and will open from December 15 to December 17. The farmers will soon be getting their tokens to sell their paddy and will not suffer any further losses, he added.