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Odisha maize farmers pushed to distress sale

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Reported by Ranjan Rath
Nabarangpur, Nov 17:

Let down by the lack of any initiative on the part of the Odisha government, maize farmers of Odisha’s Nabarangpur district have been forced to resort to distress sale of their produce.

maize crop

Already reeling under the impact of Cyclone Hudhud, they are now compelled to sell their produce much below its market rate since the district ministration is yet to set up mandis to facilitate the sale of their produce.

According to official reports, maize cultivation has been taken up in about 80,000 hectares in Papadahandi, Chandahandi, Dabugan, Jharigan, Raighar, Tentulikhunti and Umerkote blocks this year.

Though the state government had earlier announced setting up of seven maize mandis in the district and a maize processing unit on 58 acres of land at Papadahandi, none of these have made headway.

Due to the absence of a viable market in the area, maize farmers are now pushed to distress sale. Taking opportunity of the pitiable plight of these farmers, some brokers from Odisha and the neighbouring states are raking in the moolah by purchasing maize from them at throwaway prices, reports said.

“As the government has not opened the mandi for procurement of maize, we are forced to sell our produce at a much lower price to traders from Raipur in Chhattisgarh as there is no godown to stock our produce”, said Chaitanya Haladi, a farmer from Umerkote area.

“While the state government, in its earlier assessment, had stated that about 6000 hectares of maize crops were damaged during Cyclone Hudhud in the district, over 20,000 hectares of maize crops have been badly affected due to pest attack after the cyclone. This loss has not been included in the crop damage report,” said Naba Utara, a farmer from Chandahandi area.

Asked about the matter, secretary of Nabaranpur Regulated Market Committee (RMC) Chandra Sethia said while the Committee has identified Umerkote, Raighar, Nabarangpur, Kodinga, Kasagumuda, Dabugan and Jharigan for opening of maize mandis, not a single government agency had arrived at any of the mandis to purchase the produce.

“As a result, we are now holding negotiations with private agencies, including Gurgaon-based Louis Dreyfus (LD) Commodities India Pvt Ltd,” he added.

It may be mentioned that the farmers had got proper price from the National Agricultural Cooperative Marketing Federation of India (NAFED) that had purchased their produce in 2007-08.