Deogaon:The woes of the cotton farmers in this block of the Bolangir district, who have faced the wrath of natural calamities like Phathei, Titli and the subsequent floods and pest attacks in the district, may not end in the near future.
Already facing the brunt of severe crop loss in the 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 it. This has happened because of the delay in setting up mandis for procurement of cotton.
Angry farmers have repeatedly asked the district administration officials to set up local procurement centres ‘mandis’, but to no avail. The indifferent attitudes of the officials have not only increased the losses suffered by the farmers, but also put them in pitiable conditions. Now to recover whatever investments they have lost, the farmers have turned to middlemen to recover whatever they can.
Local sources stated that the negligent attitude of the administration has prompted a large number of farmers to think whether they would continue in the field of cotton cultivationin 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 cultivation took place on 844 hectares of land in Ramchandrapur, Desandh, Bandhapada, Dumerpita, Landapathar, Gaibahal and Hatisara under this block last year.
The state government has fixed the price at Rs 5,400 per quintal of cotton, 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 Padhan, another cotton farmer.
The farmers are hoping that seeing their plight, the district officials will open mandis soon. But then that doesn’t look like happening in the near future and the woes of the farmers are all set to continue.