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Odisha farmers, govt in a fix after Centre refuses subsidy for ‘choice’ seeds

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Odisha Sun Times Bureau
Bhubaneswar, May 5:

The decision of the Central government to stop the supply choice seeds to the farmers for the ensuing kharif and rabi crops has put the Odisha government in an embarrassing position.

The Centre has also made it clear that it would stop providing subsidies to the state government if it supplies the choice seeds as demanded by the farmers.paddy-seeds

The Centre is of the opinion that while the seeds supplied to the farmers over the last 10 years have lost their high productivity, farmers would now be supplied with newly developed high-yielding seeds.

However, the farmers of the state who had tested the earlier seeds with success are in no mood to accept the new variety of seeds, sources said.

Sources in the state Agriculture department said the state government has set a target to grow paddy in 36 lakh hectares of land in the Kharif season this year. Besides, it has set a target for cereal crop in 9.6 lakh hectares and oilseeds cultivation in 4.5 lakh hectares of land. However, the existing seed stock with government can meet only 22 percent of the demands of farmers.

The state government had earlier decided to provide 27 varieties of paddy seeds including Khandagiri, Nabina, Sahabagi, Manaswini and Lalat to the farmers for which the Agriculture department had prepared a list of district-wise requirement of these seeds.

Apart from this, the Centre has also asked the state government to stop supply of popular green gram seeds like OBGG-52, P Vishal, K-851 and PDM-141, black gram seeds such as PU-35 and T-9, urad seeds such as UPAS-120, Asha, Laxmi and Maruti and TAG-24 groundnut seeds to the farmers.

The Agriculture officials are of the view that if the supply of choice seeds of the farmers is made, the rate of seeds would be higher than usual because the Centre would not provide subsidies for these varieties.

The problem is, farmers who are apprehensive of the productivity of the new variety of seeds, would be reluctant to purchase these choice seeds at a higher rate.

“The state government will have to spend Rs 50 crore more for supply of these old seeds to the farmers if the Centre stops providing subsidy”, said RS Gopalan, director, Agriculture.

Expressing concern over the situation, agro scientists have asked the state government to examine the yielding capacity of the new variety of seeds and convince the farmers about their productivity.

However pro-farmer lobbies say the state government should also take the requirements of the farmers and their choice of seeds into consideration while formulating plans.