Kendrapara, March 2 (Localwire): Paddy farmers in Kendrapara district are in a bind after mill owners have refused to buy their produce, a staggering 5 lakh quintals, amassed in government procurement centers.
As a result, many farmers have resorted to distress sale, fearing damage to their hard-earned produce.
“There’s an ulterior motive to it. The more they delay the lower will be the procurement price. The millers want to exhaust our patience,” said Niranjan Parida, a farmer from Kansar.
It’s estimated that over 5 lakh quintals of paddy are stocked at 115 procurement centers, or mandis, of the district.
“The unseasonal rain is playing the spoilsport, and we fear it could destroy our produce,” said Swadhin Sahoo, another farmer from Marshaghai village.
Sudam Behera of Kalasapur village said he was forced to sell paddy for a paltry Rs1,200 a quintal.
Another paddy grower from Narendrapur village has a similar story to tell.
Jadumani Samal said, “I may sell off my stock for as little as Rs1,200 to 1,300 a quintal.”
“Mill owners know very well that we will never take back our paddy. They don’t care what happens to us, they only want a better bargain for themselves,” Samal added.
Traders, though, disagree with the farmers.
“This year too, we face another disaster. The quality of paddy is poor. We had suffered huge losses last time since the rice yield was low,” said a mill owner from Kendrapada.
The mill owners claim that the average quality of paddy this season has been sub-standard.
The official rate, however, of FAQ (Fair Average Quality) paddy per quintal is Rs1,750.
Sarbeswar Jena, a farmer from Kuseipala village alleged, “Mill owners are hand in glove with corrupt officials so they could cheat us.”
When Localwire contacted district supply officer Rajanikant Das, he admitted that mill owners were reluctant to procure more paddy stocks from the mandis. “We have, therefore, urged mill owners from other districts to purchase paddy from our mandis,” he said.
Das added that “A total of 21 millers have already purchased 6,13,973 quintals of paddy from farmers and provided 1,40,085 quintals of rice to us. We now have around 5 lakh quintals of paddy in the centers.”