R Udyagiri: In the absence of procurement centres, corn farmers in tribal-dominated R Udayagiri, Mohana and Nugada blocks of Gajapati district have resorted to distress sale of their produce, a report said.
Though Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik laid the foundation stone of three procurement centres through a video conferencing in R Udayagiri November 11, 2016, it is the negligence of the district administration that has come in the way of setting up of procurement centres.
As the government is not purchasing corn from farmers in the district, tonnes of corns remain piled up under open sky.
In the absence of any procurement centre for corns, the farmers who do not have adequate storage facilities are left to the mercy of traders and middlemen, alleged the farmers of the block.
Though the government is blowing its own trumpet about various programmes for farmers, the ground reality says something different.
The district of Gajapati comprises five tribal sub-plan blocks, namely Mohana, R Udayagiri, Rayagada, Gumma and Nuagada. Corn is considered an alternative cash crop in the district over the last two decades.
Tribal families of the blocks depend on subsistence agriculture. The major contribution to their livelihoods is from farm activities like cultivation of corn. As the environment and lands of the district are suitable for corn farming, most of the farmers choose corn farming as their primary occupation and they have been doing the same from 20 years.
Corn is one of the important commercial grains grown abundantly in this district. It is processed for manufacture of oil, flour, starch, liquid glucose, among others. Besides, two other items are much popular throughout the country, namely popcorn and cornflakes mostly used as snacks.
However, the irony is the government is not taking steps for procurement of corns and there are no procurement centres in the district for the corn farmers.
Seven years back, the state government had promised procurement centres in the district for farmers and proper preservation of corns.
Without marketing facilities for their products and no mandi facilities, farmers have no way but to sell their produce to middlemen and Andhra traders at throwaway prices. Andhra traders are taking full advantage of the situation and are camping here to lift corns at lower rates.
Corn farmers also alleged that like the government is making procurement houses for paddy farmers no such facilities are available for us and left with no option, we sell corn to the traders of other states at price much below the MSP.
According to reports, the government price of the corn is Rs 2200 per quintal. But as there are no procurement facilities made by the government in the district, farmers are bound to sell it to the middlemen from Rs 1400 to Rs 1500.
Farmers of Ramgiri area said it is difficult to clear their loan burden as we sell our produces at marginal prices to the traders.
When RMC secretary was contacted in this regard he said there are no such facilities of the government for procurement of the corns. Hence the middlemen were asked to procure corn from the farmers in the government rate.
Saying about the defunct procurement house, secretary said the total finishing work of the mandis is yet to be completed and after finishing the work we will start the procurement centre.
Farmers further alleged that while the government is making procurement centres for the farmers there is no information plaque at the procurement centres. Several farmers said, if the government does not make permanent arrangements of procurement centres for corn, they will give up cotton farming from next year.