Odisha Sun Times Bureau
Sonepur, Jun 26:
Farmers of Odisha’s Subarnapur district work as hard as anyone else to save their crops from droughts, floods and storms. But after they harvest it, the government and the district administration, for some incomprehensible reason, shy away from doing their bit in procuring the yield and pay the farmers their due.
End result: thousands of bags of paddy that had been harvested during the Rabi season are still lying in the open outside procurement centres. Seedlings have come out in hundreds of packets after the recent rains.
“The government had opened a procurement centre here. However, it was closed before they procured any paddy from all of us. Neither did the millers buy from us this time. They didn’t store the paddy properly either. As you can see, seedlings have come up on the paddy. Now, nobody is going to buy this from us. I don’t how do I pay back my loans, run my family and arrange money to buy seeds for this Kharif season,” rued Deba Pradhan, a farmer who had brought his harvest to the procurement centre.
“They called us to bring our paddy here for procurement. We rented vehicles to bring them here. Now, they are telling us that the procurement has stopped. Our harvest kept lying out in the open and turned seedling. I am worried about the payments I have to make and don’t know what do I do with this paddy,” said Balaram Kanhar, another farmer.
The farmers have not been paid for the crops. With the onset of monsoon, things can only get worse from here without government intervention. The district administration, however, is unrelenting for now and argues that it had completed its targeted procurement for the year.
“We have achieved our procurement target for the year. As of now, we can’t go on procuring paddy directly. We have asked the RIs (Revenue Inspectors) to do a study and submit a report on the amount of paddy lying at procurement centres. We will reinitiate the procurement after we have the report,” said Gopinath Sarka, Deputy Collector of Birmaharajpur.
The report they talk about might take forever given the speed at which government functions. The paddy, on the other hand, is not going to survive another shower of rain. Moreover, if the quality of paddy is not as per standards, the government is going to turn its back on the farmers even if procurement does start again. Besides, there is a fair chance that by the time the reports comes out, most of the paddy would be damaged due to exposure to humidity and rainfall.
In an area of the state where poverty is pervasive and farmer suicides are frequent, the negligence of the government is unfathomable and might lead to extremes as we understood from our conversation with farmers.