Odisha Sun Times Bureau
Bhubaneswar, Feb 21:
Odisha Food Supply minister Sanjay Dasburma today informed in the State Assembly that the state government is planning to procure paddy from share croppers while admitting flaws in the online registration system for farmers.
“If a person is identified by the sarpanch of the panchayat or ward member or chairman or village patriarch or a zilla parishad member as a share cropper for these many years, the department will also procure surplus paddy from him. The directive is currently in effect in Ganjam district and will be extended to all districts across the state”, he said.
Addressing concerns expressed by members across party lines over distress sale of paddy and problems faced by farmers at mandis (paddy procurement centres run by government agencies) during Question Hour, the minister said the departments of Food Supply, Revenue and Cooperation will jointly rectify the flaws in the online registration system.
The minister said that provisions have been made in the law for streamlining mandis.
In response to the demands of the members for raising the minimum support price (MSP) for paddy, the minister said the state government has already proposed the Central government for raising the MSP for paddy to Rs 2,500 per quintal. The state government is hopeful of the Centre accepting the proposal and the government will be able to pay it as the MSP to farmers in the state.
However, the Union Agriculture ministry, in the meanwhile, has told the Supreme Court that it cannot increase the minimum statutory prices of key cereals or pulses any further, responding to a court notice asking it to explain why MSPs of certain produce should not be hiked by at least 50% of the cost to stem rising incidence of farmer suicides.
The demand was made by the Consortium of Indian Farmers’ Association, which had filed a PIL demanding that the government implement recommendations of the MS Swaminathan Committee that had suggested the hike.
The Committee’s findings were commended in 2010 by a working group of agricultural production headed by the Prime Minister. The group had suggested that the government also fix MSPs for pulses, oilseeds and vegetables, especially potato, onion and garlic.
The working group had said that the methodology used by the Commission on Agricultural Costs and Pricing for calculating cost of cultivation was flawed and unscientific. This needed to be revisited to make it more realistic on the lines of the formula used for estimating industrial costs or, preferably, the MSP should be at least 50% higher than the cost of cultivation as suggested by the Swaminathan Committee, it had said.