Despite emerging as one of major paddy producing districts of the State over the years, poor marketing infrastructure remains a major problem in Kalahandi district. Belying the claims of the Government, distress sale is still rampant with many farmers opting to sell their surplus paddy to private players.
The kharif paddy procurement report of Bhawanipatna Central Cooperative Bank based on the paddy purchase and delivery by Primary Agriculture Cooperative Societies (PACS), which procures paddy in the mandis on behalf of Odisha Supply Corporation, revealed that about half of the marketable paddy could not be procured in the Government-run mandis.
According to the assessment report of the Agriculture department, before beginning of the paddy procurement during kharif season of 2013, total coverage of crop area was 1,90,000 hectares and the expected production was 8,56,531 tonnes. The PACS had made an assessment of total marketable crop in the district at 7,11,836 tonnes.
On the basis of this report, the target of procurement for the district was fixed by the Government. Accordingly, 74 PACS were entrusted to procure paddy from 130 centres or mandis and 85 millers were tagged to the paddy purchasing centres.
However, the final audited report of purchase and delivery of paddy in 2013-14 kharif season by the PACS released by the Bhawanipatna Central Cooperative Bank recently revealed that the total 3.27 lakh tonnes were procured in the mandis. Thus, comparing 7.11 lakh tonnes of marketable paddy assessed by the PACS and the final procurement, there is a shortage of more than four lakh tonnes.
In the previous kharif season of 2012-13, the total paddy procurement was 3.45 lakh tonnes in the district. Due to abnormal delay in opening of the procuring centres and fixation of target by the Government, a large quantity of paddy, mostly of small farmers, was sold outside the Government managed purchasing centres. Many farmers on Chhattisgarh border sold their produce to private players of the neighbouring State, informed a Supply department official on condition of anonymity.
During 2012-13 kharif season, the procurement started on December 5, 2013 instead of November 15 due to delay by the Government in giving direction to the authorities concerned.
Farmer activist Anil Nanda said, “Due to late opening of mandis, many farmers prefer to sell their produce in Chhattisgarh.”
Besides, the special calamity allowance of `100 per quintal of paddy sold by farmers to the maximum limit of 100 quintal per farmer decided by State Government is yet to be implemented, he added.
Meanwhile, Bhawanipatna Central Cooperative Bank has already prepared the Kharif paddy procurement of PACS under Kalahandi district for 2013-14.
Nanda said the incentive should be paid early to the farmers and the district administration and State Government should start the procurement process well in advance so that the farmers would not sell their produce outside the State and thereby not face distress sale condition.