Kendrapara, March 20 (LocalWire): A murmur of dissent is blowing in the paddy fields which could blow up into a serious election plank for the Opposition and result in the ruling party biting dust.
Distress sale of paddy by the farmers has been a major issue in the coastal district of Kendrapara. The ruling party is in a tight spot as a large number of farmers are not inclined to support the BJD in the upcoming polls.
The authorities failed to procure the harvest at an appropriate price leading to paddy stocks piling up at the farmers’ houses and harvesting grounds.
‘The government fixed the rate of a paddy bag at Rs 1750 per quintal but many farmers in the district are being compelled to sale it at a price of Rs 1200 to Rs 1500 as the government failed to procure more paddy from the farmers through millers at the Paddy Procuring Centers in the district,’ said Umesh Singh a farmer leader and president of the district unit of Krusaka Sabha.
‘Millers are not interested to purchase paddy from us and I had to sell three quintals of paddy at the cost of Rs 3600. I will not vote in favour BJD as this government is anti-farmer,’ said Satrughan Jena of Gandakhia village.
BJD is facing the ire of many farmers like Satrughan due to the distress sale of paddy by them.
District Congress president and former MLA, Chinmay Beura said large numbers of farmers in the district are being forced to let go of their produce at a much cheaper rate, resulting in huge financial losses. ‘The farmers have already raised their voices against the ruling party and Congress is sure to reap benefits in the coming elections playing the anti-farmer card of the ruling party.’
Farmers across the district are in deep trouble as millers are reluctant to purchase paddy from them even though more than 5 lakh quintals of paddy is stocked in the 115 paddy procurement centers (Mandis) set up by the government in the district.
‘The ulterior motive of the millers, many of whom are ruling party leaders, is to delay procurement. The more the delay, the lower will be the procurement price. The millers after exhausting the farmers’ patience are forcing them to make distress sales. The officials are hand in glove with the mill owners and are playing with the lives of the farmers which will ultimately force the farmers to vote against the BJD,’ said Dyurodhan Sahoo, the BJP district unit president.
But BJD leader and former chairman of Kendrapara municipality Dhiren Sahoo was upbeat and said, ‘distress sale of paddy is not an issue in the coming polls in Kendrapara district. The government has already opened several Paddy Procurement centres in all the nine blocks to procure paddy from the farmers.’
The district supply officer, Rajanikant Das said ‘Twenty-one millers have already purchased 6,13,973 quintals of paddy from the farmers and provided 1,40,085 quintals of rice to us. We have stock of around five lakh quintals of paddy in the mandis.
Since, rice mill owners are reluctant to procure more paddy from the mandis, we urged the millers from other districts of the state to purchase paddy from us.’