Odisha Sun Times Bureau
Sambalpur, Apr 21:
Peeved over the dilly-dallying of the officials, farmers in the western Odisha town of Sambalpur on Monday stacked around 30 quintals of potatoes at the office of the deputy director of horticulture and prevented the entry of staff into the office.
The tuber growers dumped their produce at the entrance of the office as a mark of protest after district collector and director horticulture failed to fulfil their promises of procuring their produce in two days.
As the potatoes were perishing due to intense heat wave in the district, farmers of Jamankira, led by secretary of Sri Laxmi Krushak Sangathan, Gokul Chamdra Dani, forced their way into the office and dumped the potato sacs in the office in the absence of the officials.
Later in the afternoon, sub collector Bimalendu Ray and CSO Bijay Rath reached the spot of agitation and held talks with the aggrieved farmers. The officials assured the farmers that potatoes will be procured at Jamankira on April 22 and at Kuchinda on April 23.
“Market yards will be opened at Jamankira on April 22 and at Kuchinda a day later where the potatoes will be procured,” said sub-collector Bimalendu Ray.
The farmers withdrew their agitation after the assurance by the officials.
Of the 30 quintals of potatoes that were dumped at the office of the deputy director of horticulture, a sack containing 50 kg of potato was purchased by the sub collector, 27 quintals of potato was purchased for the ‘Aahar’ scheme and the remaining stock was purchased by the people present there at Rs 7 a kilo.
The state government had encouraged farmers to grow potato after the West Bengal government stopped supply to Odisha last year.
Farmers in Sambalpur district had cultivated potato on over 1800 hectare land and produced around 27,000 quintals of potato.
The state government was procuring the produce in the district through government agencies. However, the farmers suffered a jolt as not a kilo gram of potato was collected from the district before the procurement period was over.
It may be recalled that farmers from Ambabhona block of the neighbouring Bargarh district had dumped potato at the Bargarh district collector’s office on April 10 demanding procurement of potatoes. The potatoes were procured following intervention of the district administration.
Earlier on March 24, the state government had announced to procure potatoes from 11 districts through two procurement agencies–Markfed and Udyan Fresh – which in turn were to be purchased by Odisha State Civil Supplies Corporation (OSCSC) to be stored as buffer stock to meet the demands during lean period.