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Farmers fear distress sale of kharif paddy

KORAPUT: The fear of distress sale haunts farmers of Koraput district with thousands of quintal of paddy still lying in the mandis after procurement of the targeted amount. The district witnessed a bumper crop this kharif season. Around 93,700 farmers cultivated paddy over 46,240 hectare and their produce was close to 3 lakh metric tonne (MT), according to the agriculture department.

The government had fixed the procurement target at 1, 20,169 MT in the first phase, which was later increased to 1, 26, 863 MT. "If the government does not resume paddy procurement, the farmers will be forced to sell their produce at a price lower than the minimum support price of Rs 1,310 a quintal," Narendra Kumar Pradhan, secretary of Zilla Krushaka Kalyana Mancha, an outfit working for the benefit of farmers

Koraput MLA Tara Prasad Bahinipati attributed the agrarian crisis to the government's lack of vision. "The government does not have a specific policy for farmers. Such an attitude will demoralize farmers and they will hesitate to take up farming in future," he said. "The government should take immediate steps to curb distress sale and protect farmers from being exploited by middlemen," he added.

Civil supplies officer (Koraput) Pitambar Acharya said, "We have sought permission from the government to procure paddy over and above the target and waiting for the nod."

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No large scale distress sale of paddy, Odisha tells CACP

Odisha has denied any instance of large scale distress sale of paddy, maintaining that the government has taken steps like opening of maximum purchase centres and involved women self-help groups (WSHGs) to arrest distress sale.

In a reply to the Commission for Agricultural Cost & Prices (CACP), the state agriculture department said, “There is no instance of large scale distress sale (of paddy) by the farmers in Odisha. The state government has taken various steps to avoid distress sale of paddy such as opening of maximum purchase centres, involvement of Primary Agricultural Credit Societies (PACS), WSHGs and pani panchayats in paddy procurement operation as commission agent of state procuring agencies.”

The CACP had enquired if there were recent instances of large scale distress sale by the farmers and steps taken by the state government to arrest such distress sale.

The Odisha State Civil Supplies Corporation (OSCSC) has opened 2,448 purchase centres while Marketing Federation Ltd (Markfed) and National Agricultural Cooperative Marketing Federation of India (Nafed) have opened 116 and 75 centres respectively. Food Corporation of India (FCI) has established 20 centres whereas Tribal Development Cooperative Corporation of Odisha Ltd (TDCC) has set up 43 centres.

Farmers have to register with the societies at least seven days in advance along with the proposed quantity of FAQ (fair average quality) paddy to be sold, proof of identity and savings bank account of any commercial, rural or cooperative bank. The societies will allot date to the farmers to bring FAQ paddy to paddy procurement centres so as to regulate the flow of paddy.

The state government recently faced heat from the Opposition Congress in the assembly over distress sale of paddy. Congress MLA Anup Kumar Sai had alleged that farmers were forced to sell paddy in the price range of Rs 800-900 per quintal against the minimum support price (MSP) of Rs 1310 per quintal for common grade and Rs 1,345 per quintal for better grade rice.

This was due to non-opening of mandis by the government, he pointed out. Pratap Keshari Deb, minister for civil supplies, had rubbished the allegations, saying the government has opened mandis in six districts- Bargarh, Boudh, Kalahandi, Sambalpur, Nuapada and Subarnapur.

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Slow Paddy Procurement Leads to Distress Sale

Delay in lifting of paddy from the mandis by the procurement agencies of the State Government has led to distress sale benefiting rice millers and private traders.

According to reports from major paddy producing districts, huge stocks of kharif paddy are lying in open in different mandis and farmers waiting for days to sell their produce had no clue when their stock will be lifted by mandi functionaries.

“Government agencies are in cahoots with the rice millers and the deliberate delay in lifting the paddy will force the farmers to sell the paddy to the millers at cheaper rates,” said a ruling BJD MLA of Kalahandi district.

According to official reports, 10.23 lakh tonnes of paddy have been procured by the Government till January 3 against 14.27 lakh tonnes during the corresponding period last year.

The State Government has set a target for the Odisha State Civil Supplies Corporation (OSCSC) to procure three lakh tonnes of rice (equivalent paddy of 4.41 lakh tonnes) from Bargarh district, considered the rice bowl of the State, during the current kharif marketing season.

The State public sector undertaking has procured four lakh tonnes of paddy against 5.18 lakh tonnes procured during the same period last year. The district yielded a bumper crop this kharif despite flash floods due to cyclone induced heavy rain in few areas.

Farmers of Kalahandi district are hit hard by the awfully slow pace of paddy procurement. The OSCSC has procured nearly 87,000 tonnes of paddy against 1.52 lakh tonnes during this period last year.

This is despite the fact that 122 Primary Agriculture Cooperative Societies (PACS) are engaged in the district for procurement. Initially, 74 PACS were selected for procurement in the district.

The State run corporation has been procuring paddy through 2420 PACS in all districts.

The PACS are paid two per cent of the total proceeds towards mandi handling operations.

Similar is the situation in Sambalpur and Subarnapur, the two other major paddy producing districts in Western Odisha.

One lakh tonne of paddy has been procured in Sambalpur against 1.45 lakh tonne during the same period last year while in Subarnapur, 85,000 tonnes have been procured against a target of 1.47 lakh tonnes.

The Phailin affected Ganjam district is yet to open its account. The district lost its entire kharif crop to the devastating cyclone followed by subsequent flood.

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Farmers Cry Foul over Paddy Procurement, Support Price

Allegations of distress sale of paddy have come to fore in Sundargarh district. While rice millers have been accused of unnecessary interference at the paddy procurement centres, the farmers alleged that they were not getting the right price for various reasons.

At a time when the district administration is struggling to streamline the procurement process, the poor farmers are resorting to distress sale.

The Civil Supplies Department through 109 procurement centres across the district is procuring paddy and the consignments are directly sent to nine authorised rice mills for processing.

Sources said the representatives of rice mills are ruling the roost at most of the centres. They resort to deduction of five to eight kgs of paddy from one quintal on the plea of presence of foreign articles and above 16 per cent of moisture content. The farmers had recently staged a protest in Lefripara block over the issue.

Sundargarh president of BJP Krushak Morcha Rabi Chandra Patel said in the name of ensuring Fair Average Quality (FAC), the agents of rice mills are bringing down the price by `65 per quintal by deducting the weight of five kg.

The practice is rampant in Subdega, Balishankara, Lefirpara, Bargaon and Tangarpali blocks and other parts of the district. If protested, the mill agents refuse to lift stocks.

Patel further pointed out that several eligible farmers have failed to get the Farmer Identity Cards (FICs) due to either large scale vacancy in Revenue Department or erratic work schedules of the officials.

In areas close to Chhattisgarh border, traders are procuring paddy from small farmers at a price between `1100 and `1150 per quintal and selling the stock to rice mills in Chhattisgarh for `1340 per quintal.

Duaru Deo of Saunamora village in Balishankar block said he has no FIC and recently he sold around 12 quintals to a trader at the price of `1150 per quintal. A week ago, some marginal farmers sold paddy at `1050 per quintal at Karamdihi in Subdega block.

Sundargarh-based Civil Supplies Officer (CSO) Abhiram Pradhan said so far around 14,000 tonnes have been procured against the target of 66,176 tonnes. He said the discoloured paddy is more and the Food Corporation of India is likely to refuse to buy red grains. Except minor hitches, the procurement process is running smoothly, he claimed.

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Millers Make Hay as Govt Goes Slow on Paddy Procurement

As the State Government agencies are going slow on paddy procurement, rice millers and private traders are making a kill by purchasing kharif paddy much below the minimum support price announced by the Centre.

Reports coming from major paddy procuring districts like Bargarh, Sambalpur, Kalahandi and Balangir said that farmers are selling their paddy to rice millers at mandis at lesser price to avoid long wait to deliver the same to Government appointed agencies at minimum support price (MSP) of ` 1,310 per quintal.

“Rice millers are purchasing paddy at ` 900-1,000 per quintal while private traders pay even less as they procure it from door to door,” leader of BJP legislature party Jaynarayan Mishra said.Mishra alleged that the mandis opened by the Government are being managed by agents of the rice millers. Although the market yards belong to the Regulated Market Committees (RMCs) of the Cooperation department, the RMC employees are not visible.

Stating that huge quantity of paddy have started arriving at the mandis, president of All Odisha Farmers Association Ashok Pradhan said a cut of five to seven kgs of paddy per quintal by the procuring agencies has hit the farmers hard.

Besides, the online payment introduced by the Government to make the transaction more transparent has been proved a bane for the farmers as they have to wait for weeks to get their dues. The cost of paddy is directly deposited in the farmer’s account, Pradhan said.

Reacting to the special calamity assistance of ` 100 per quintal of paddy announced by Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik at Bargarh recently, the farmers’ leader said the Government takes more than what is pays. An average cut of five kg of paddy a bag (100 kg) is a hug loss to the farmers.

Even after a month of State’s request to the Centre for providing  relaxation under FAQ (fair average quality) norms, the Ministry of Food Supplies is yet to respond. The Central committee which visited the flood affected areas of some western districts including Bargarh is reported to have submitted its report to the Ministry on December 6.

There will be price cut even during procurement of paddy under relaxed specification (URS) and this will neither benefit the farmers nor the State Government, official sources said.

The Food Corporation of India (FCI) will not accept URS rice and the State Government will have to make its domestic consumption, the sources said.

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Kotpad Farmers Demand Bonus of Rs 300 per Quintal of Paddy

The bonus for paddy crop declared by Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik has received a lukewarm response in the tribal region with the farmers of Kotpad demanding the amount to be raised to `300 per quintal.

At a meeting in Girla village of Kotpad block on Sunday, farmers of different villages expressed concern over low profit margin in paddy cultivation due to hike in the input cost.

They demanded Minimum Support Price (MSP) of paddy to be raised from the present `1,350 to ` 1,650 per quintal. The paddy farmers said their counterparts in neighbouring Chhattisgarh are getting bonus of `300 and the Odisha Government should follow the same policy.

The meeting was attended by over 100 farmer leaders of Kotpad including Sukria Pradhan, Biren Bisoi, Anak Patra, Umesh Berham. Kotpad is the rice bowl of southern Odisha where about one lakh hectares of farmland are under paddy cultivation.

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Odisha faces Opposition ire over distress sale of paddy

Farmers forced to sell paddy at Rs 800 to Rs 900 per quintal against Centre-fixed MSP of over Rs 1,300

Alleging neglect towards the farmers, the opposition parties led by Congress today severely criticised the government on the distress sale of paddy in the state.

Initiating a debate on an adjournment motion on the topic in the assembly, Congress MLA Anup Kumar Sai said, the farmers are forced to sell paddy at Rs 800 to Rs 900 per quintal against the Centre-fixed minimum support price (MSP) of over Rs 1,300. “This has happened because of non-opening of mandis by the government,” he added.

Sai said, paddy is being sold at a much lesser rate this year compared to previous years.

He urged the government to pay bonus to the farmers to make up for their losses.

The Union government has fixed the MSP of paddy for 2013-14 at Rs 1,310 per quintal for common rice and Rs 1,345 for better grade rice.

Complaining that the paddy is still sold through the middlemen, he said, “There are instances of farmers committing suicide in Lakhanpur. The government should giver proper compensation to the farmers for the loss of crop due to the Phailin.”

Expressing similar concern, Jharsuguda MLA Naba Kishore Das flayed the state government for not taking actions against the rice millers, who refuse to lift paddy from the farmers.

He demanded that government should fix a timeline for procurement of paddy from the farmers.

Participating in the discussion, Bargarh MLA Sadhu Nepak said, slow lifting of paddy in the market yard is leading to distress sale of paddy.

Refuting the allegations, state minister for Civil Supplies, Pratap Keshari Deb, said, the government has opened mandis in six districts. The districts are Bargarh, Boudh, Kalahandi, Sambalpur, Nuapada and Subarnapur.

Deb informed the House that on the basis of decision taken at the district level procurement committee (DLPC) meeting, paddy procurement has started in Bargarh, Boudh, Kalahandi, Nuapada and Sambalpur districts.

Similarly, more mandis will be opened in Bolangir, Deogarh, Keonjhar, Kandhamal, Nabarangpur, Nayagarh, Rayagada and Subarnapur districts in the first week of December.

Paddy procurement will be taken up in Cuttack and Kendrapada districts in the first week of January, 2014, the minister added. He said, Food Corporation of India (FCI) has procured 11.11 lakh tonne rice in the last Kharif marketing season (KMS) as on December 2 and the target is to buy another 75,000 tonne of rice by the end of this month.

FCI has transported 8.7 lakh tonne rice to other states as on December 2, which is a record.


State may meet paddy buying target despite Phailin

Severe damage to paddy crop due to cyclone Phailin and floods not withstanding, the Odisha government is confident of achieving the paddy procurement target in the current kharif market season (KMS).

The government aims to procure three million tonnes of paddy this year. The target was fixed before the cyclone battered the state. Last year, the state had procured 3.66 million tonne paddy against the target of 2.9 million tonne.

"We hope to achieve the target this year as the western Odisha districts have recorded bumper crop production in the current kharif," said state food supplies and consumer welfare minister Pratap Keshari Deb, here. While the farmers in south and north Odisha districts were severely affected by the twin calamities of cyclone and floods last month, the farmers in western Odisha were not affected. "The bumper harvest in western part of the state will help in achieving the procurement target," the minister said. The paddy procurement in some western Odisha districts has already started. Deb had come to Berhampur to attend the district collectors' conference on paddy procurement. The district collectors and civil supply officers (CSO) of eight southern Odisha districts and senior officers of the civil supply department, including its secretary Madhusudan Padhy, revenue divisional commissioner (RDC) southern division, Bikash Chandra Mohapatra attended the meeting.

The minister said, the state government would write to the Centre to procure the discoloured paddy from the state, particularly from the districts hit by Phailin and floods. "We have asked the district collectors to submit reports on the yield of damaged and discoloured paddy. Then we will write to the Centre to relax the norms for paddy procurement," he said. Though the exact amount of damaged and discoloured paddy produced in the state would be known only after crop cutting, the minister said, the quantities of this type of paddy would be huge as 40 percent area of the state was ravaged by cyclone and floods. Ganjam, a high paddy yielding state, was worst affected.

Since the southern Odisha districts bore the brunt of the natural calamities, the government has not fixed paddy procurement target for these districts. "The respective district administration will procure in these districts as per their convenience", minister said.

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Odisha to urge Centre to relax paddy procurement norms

 The government will write to the Centre, urging it to relax the norms of paddy procurement from the State by accepting discoloured paddy, particularly from the districts affected by cyclone Phailin and subsequent floods.

“We have asked the district Collectors to submit reports on the yield of damaged and discoloured paddy, and then we will write to the Centre urging it to relax the norms of paddy procurement,” Odisha’s Food Supplies and Consumer Welfare Minister Pratap Keshari Deb said here.

Though the exact quantity of damaged and discoloured paddy produced in the State would be known only after crop cutting, the Minister said the volume of such paddy would be huge as 40 per cent area of the State was ravaged by the cyclone and flood.

Ganjam, known as one of the rice-bowl districts, was the worst affected in the last month’s natural calamities.

The Minister was here to attend the district Collectors’ conference on paddy procurement for the kharif market season (KMS).

“We have discussed thoroughly about the procurement of discoloured paddy at the meeting and asked the Collectors to submit the report of expected yield of low grade paddy in their districts,” Mr. Deo said after the meeting.

Since the southern Odisha districts bore the brunt of the natural devastation, the government had not fixed paddy procurement target for these districts.

“We have also not fixed the procurement time. The district administration will begin to procure as per their convenience,” the Minister said.


Despite the huge crop loss due to the cyclonic storm, heavy rains, and subsequent floods in at least 18 of the 30 districts of Odisha in October, the government is confident of achieving procurement target of paddy this year.

The government fixed the target of procuring 30 lakh tonnes (LT) paddy this year. The target was fixed before the cyclone battered the State and on the basis of last year’s production.

Last year, the State had procured 36.68 LT against a target of 29 LT.

“We hope to achieve the target this year in view of bumper crops in the districts in the western part of the State,” Mr. Deb added.

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Floods hit crops in Jajpur, 1L ha paddy field submerged

 The recent flood fury in Jajpur district has affected standing paddy crops, adding to the expected shortfall in crop production while pushing up food prices. About one lakh hectare of paddy was submerged in the district.

Flood has also affected sugarcane and jute. The cash crops are often grown as secondary crops while rice is regarded as the main food grain in the district. Apart from affecting food grains, the flood has also taken a toll on vegetables in many areas making them expensive.

“From June to September, we were left looking towards the skies for rain and could not take up cultivation because of the drought. Now, when rains started pouring, the floods have come as a bolt from the  blue and left us devastated,” lamented Alok Swain, a farmer of Binjarpur, whose three-acre paddy field has been inundated and he finds no way to recover from the crisis.

“It is a difficult time for the farmers now. The impact of the crop losses will surely be felt in the economy of farmers and they will find it hard to recover from this blow,” said Gayadhar Dhal, a farmer of Badachana.

“The process of rescheduling crop loans, announced after the flood, has not yet been started and now the banks will be required to complete all formalities so that the farmers could avail of fresh crop loans,” said a senior officer of district agriculture office.

“Food security and livelihoods have been severely hit in the flood-hit areas. Agricultural production is the main source of livelihood in the affected area and this season’s rice harvest has been badly damaged, leading to increased food insecurity. The flooding came just two months before fields were to be harvested for the paddy. In many flood-hit villages, water hyacinth — regarded as the world’s worst water weed - was washed into the fields with the flood waters. You can’t do anything but wait for the weed to die. Taking it out will be a colossal expenditure,” said Umesh Chandra Singh, a farmer leader.

Elsewhere, when the paddy was under water for two to three days, the harvest was either destroyed or will be woefully low.

“The paddy can look fine, but if it was under water for over a day there will be no harvest,” said Prakash Swain, a farmer of Bari. With paddy crop having suffered a major damage in the flood, prices of rice has shot up by a minimum of Rs 300 to 400 per quintal over the last week as unscrupulous traders have got back to hoarding.

The price of rice in retail market has jumped from Rs 17 a kg to Rs 20 to Rs 22 a kg for the preferred varieties. Rice stocks are not freely available even at enhanced price as a section of millers and wholesale traders have joined hands to create an artificial scarcity in the wake of reports that paddy production is likely to fall due to flood.

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Task force to monitor rice cultivation in Odisha

BHUBANESWAR: The government on Wednesday formed a state-level task force to monitor rabi programme and asked collectors of all districts to take immediate steps to support farmers for this programme in the wake of heavy damage to agricultural crops because of cyclone Phailin and subsequent floods.

Agriculture minister Debi Mishra said affected farmers would be provided a co-operative loan of Rs 3,500 crore for rabi crop at 5% interest. The task force would finalize the rabi programme within the next one week. It will meet every week for the next two months to monitor the programme. Besides, the government decided to provide agricultural loan to farmers of 18 cyclone- and flood-affected districts, Mishra said.

The government's order followed a letter issued in this regard to collectors of all districts. "Immediate steps need to be taken to assist the affected farmers on all fronts to pave the way for their economic recovery," said chief secretary J K Mohapatra in a letter sent in this regard to all collectors, official sources said.

He said the state government has been trying to do its best to provide relief to people, who have been affected by the calamity. Chief minister Naveen Patnaik has also announced a special package for farmers in the affected areas, he said.

Mohapatra said keeping in view the water level in all reservoirs and residual moisture available in the soil following heavy rainfall, the government has decided to launch a massive "Rabi campaign 2013-14".

He said a similar task force should be constituted at the district-level for better implementation of the rabi programme.

The chief secretary further stated that appropriate strategies need to be devised suiting to the specific requirement of districts for rabi campaign. Massive drive must be made for expansion of area during rabi, especially under pulses, oilseeds and vegetable crops taking advantage of higher residual moisture status of the soil due to rainfall received on account of cyclonic weather, the letter pointed out. It said wherever possible the farmers must be encouraged to take up one more crop during this crop year utilizing the additional soil moisture.

The government also mentioned about its target of production fixed for different rabi crops for 2013-14. It said the coverage of rice is programmed to be increased from 2.79 lakh hectare during rabi 2012-13 to 3.60 lakh during 2013-14. Similar targets have also been fixed for other crops including different cereals, pulses, oilseeds and vegetables.

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Pests attacking paddy

 Bhawanipatna: Though drought prone Kalahandi district is expecting a bumper crop during this kharif season, pests are attacking paddy and non-paddy crops in the region, official sources said.
"Outbreak of pest in paddy and non paddy crops since about last one month has raised apprehension about prospect of Kharif paddy and non paddy crops in the district," an official said.
As per the latest pest infection assessed by Agriculture department in the district by this week end, incidence of pest infection have been noticed in paddy and non paddy crops in about 20,500 hectors land in the district due to congenial climatic condition.
The report says 90 per cent of this affected areas is in paddy crop. The worst affected blocks are Jaipatna, Junagarh, Koksara, Bhawanipatna, Kesinga, Narla blocks.
While stem borer, case worm, sheth, blight, BPH, leaf folder and Blast varieties of pests have affected paddy crops, pests like Aphid, Jassid, Leaf minor, White fly and Mealy bug have been noticed in crops like Cotton, Arhar and vegetables.
While the farmers fear loss of crop due to pest attack, there has been no assistance from the state government, farmers alleged. The role of Agriculture department is limited to rendering advice to farmers, they said.
Deputy director Agriculture Kailash Chandra Behera explained that field staff of his department were on high alert and in move to give proper technical advice to farmers.
He said that the directorate of Agriculture is periodically apprised about the pest incidence. Last month it was requested to allow for diversion of Rs 50 lakh from National Food Security Mission (rice) from other heads to supply pesticide to farmers on subsidy.
Collector Kalahandi has also endorsed this proposal.
The permission of the directorate is awaited, he said.



Rice production projected at 8.4 mnt in kharif

Rice production in the state has been projected at 8.4 million tonne (mnt) for this kharif season on the back of normal monsoon rainfall. The rice output projection is based on the first advance estimates of the agriculture department with the rice yield calculated at 2,400 kg per hectare (ha).

"The pattern of monsoon rainfall was conducive for crops in the state except a few blocks like Sora, Tangi and Choudwar. We are hopeful that the rice production in the state is likely to cross 8.6 million tonne this year, if there is no flood," said Surendranath Pasupalak, head of agricultural meteorology at the Odisha University of Agriculture and Technology (OUAT).

The output of coarse cereals is estimated at 0.794 mnt with an productivity of about 419.620 kg per ha. It includes 0.647 mt of maize and 0.13 mt of ragi with the productivity of 2,550 kg and 950 kg per ha respectively.

Similarly, the production of pulses during kharif 2013-14 is estimated to be 0.57 mt including 0.18mt of arhar, 0.16 mt of biri and 0.15 mt mung.

This year's food grain production target included 9.194 mt of cereals and 0.57 mt of pulses.

Paddy- a key kharif crop has been sown on 3.67 mha area surpassing the target of 3.5 mha as on September-end last year. Pulses, oilseeds, fibers, vegetables and spices were sown on 0.68 mha, 0.30 mha, 0.15 mha, 0.64 mha and 0.105 mha respectively.

Total food grains output in the first estimate has been pegged at 9.764 mt compared to 9.8 mt in the fourth advance estimates for last year. As per the fourth advance estimate, rice production in the state in last kharif was likely to be 8.628 mt with a yield rate of 2,302 kg per hectare. It includes production of 0.619 mt of maize, 0.145 mt of ragi, 0.128 mt of arhar, 0.0109 mt of mung, 0.121 mt of biri, 0.224 mt of oil seeds and 0.541 mt of fibres in 2012-13.

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Paddy seed scarcity hits farmers hard

Jeypore, Odisha : Farmers of Jeypore sub-division are now running from pillar to post seeking paddy seeds to begin agricultural works. The seed stocked by the farmers was washed away in the recent floods.

About 50 per cent of crop land in the area have not been cultivated for scarcity of seeds in both private and Government outlets in the district.

In the kharif season, the district agriculture officials had targeted to cultivate paddy in 1.40 lakh acres in Jeypore sub-division. For the purpose, 40,000 quintals of seeds were required.

Though the seeds should have reached the farmers by third week of this month, those are yet to arrive. So far, the farmers have sown seeds procured from outside the district in only 70,000 acres.

The much sought after seed varieties like Lalat, 1001 and Puja are not available. “We lost our paddy seed stock in the recent floods. When we approached the Government and private outlets, they were either closed or had no stock,” said Sada Tripathy, a farmer leader of Konkodahandi.

On the other hand, some unscrupulous traders are trying to take advantage of the situation by offering paddy seeds at higher rate.

Sources alleged that the seeds sold by these traders are not even certified by the Seed Verification Authority of Odisha.

Several pani panchayat leaders met the authorities concerned recently and sought Government intervention in the issue.

District Seeds Production Officer KCH Panda said Government seed production centres had distributed 18,000 quintals of paddy seeds for this kharif season prior to the flood in the region two weeks back.

 “We are aware of the shortage situation and necessary action would be taken soon,” he added.

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Paddy crops damaged, procurement hit

Odisha : Last week the farmers of Kalahandi suffered the ordeal of flash flood that wreaked havoc in the area. After Monday’s cloudburst, whether at mandis, at the thrashing ground, or the standing paddy, it has been a double blow for the farmers.

Cloudburst and torrential rain during last 24 hours in Thuamul Rampur and Kalampur blocks of Kalahandi caused devastating impact. According to official report, Thuamul Rampur block recorded a 600 mm rainfall while it was 400 mm in Kalampur block, 235 mm in Jaipatna, 132 mm in Kesinga and 105 mm in Bhawanipatna block of the district. The unprecedented rainfall of 600 mm in 24 hours in T Rampur block has caused confusion prompting the authorities for a reassessment.

T Rampur block is the high land of the district and located about 3000 feet above sea level. It is known as Cherrapunji of Odisha for high rainfall. Rivers like Indravati, Nagabali and Sagada have originated from this high land.

Although Monday’s downpour is feared to have inflicted widespread devastation in the area, the extent of damage would be known after the cutoff villages become accessible.

Heavy rain and flood in the Indravati irrigated area twice in the past one week have seriously affected summer paddy procurement and large-scale damages to paddy have been reported. According to the report from Supply Department, so far only 83,144 MT of paddy has been procured through the official mandis as against the assessment of Agriculture Department of production of 2.7 lakh MT of summer paddy in the district during current season.

The damage has been extensive to the standing paddy, at the thrashing ground and even at the mandis where harvest has been exposed to rain. The three days of rainfall from June 14 had already caused extensive damage to the paddy stock brought to mandis by the farmers. Ironically out of the 51 stipulated mandis of Primary Agriculture Societies, only eight have permanent sheds which too are inadequate in the event of such rainfall. In other mandis, paddy is exposed and farmers remain at the mercy of the rain gods.

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Rain washes away paddy

Heavy rain for the last five days has taken a toll on paddy crop in Jeypore sub-division. On Wednesday, the district received 110 mm of rainfall within one hour flooding many parts.

According to preliminary reports, over 10,000 acres of paddy crop harvested and stocked in farms just a few days back in Jeypore, Kotpad, Borrigumma and Kundra blocks has been washed away in the rainwater. This apart, over 5,000 thatched houses have been damaged.

In Jeypore town, rainwater gushed in localities like Christian Chhack, Jayangar, New Street, Parabeda, Paninala Chhack and Raju Chhack. Many parts were inundated as the town lacks a proper drainage system. Government and commercial establishments remained closed for the second day.

Major rivers like Indravati, Hati, Sapatadhara, Patali, Sileru, Saveri, Nagavali and Bansadhara are in spate and would cross the danger marks if rains continue.

Road communication from Koraput to Rayagada, Nabarangpur, Malkangiri and neighbouring Chhattisgarh has been disrupted as water was flowing on the roads.

Jeypore Sub-Collector B Korkora reviewed the situation on Thursday and directed revenue officials to keep a close watch on developments and provide immediate relief to those affected. He also asked them to assess the loss of farmers.

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Tardy procurement worries paddy farmers

BHAWANIPATNA :Though procurement of summer paddy crop locally called Dalua was started in Kalahandi district from May 24, its slow progress has caused anxiety among the farmers who are gearing up for next crop with the approach of monsoon.

According to an assessment of Agriculture department, around 2.76 tonnes of Dalua paddy was produced with Indravati irrigated area accounting for most of it.

The district administration has decided to open 52 paddy procurement centres in the district and tag those centres with rice mills. With the paddy procured in the last kharif season, the mills have delivered 60 per cent of rice to the receiving centres and FCI. Now, the millers are ready to lift Dalua paddy from the procurement centres. So far, 44 out of total 87 rice millers are ready for procurement. According to official sources, only 39 purchasing centres in Dharamgarh sub-division have been operational and 93,996 quintals of paddy from 1,622 farmers purchased with major portion of the harvested paddy yet to be procured.

With the monsoon already entering south Odisha, the farmers are anxiously waiting to sell their produce before it gets damaged in rain as most of the paddy purchasing centres lack shed. But at the pace the procurement is in progress, they are worried that the paddy stock piled in procurement centres and at their thrashing grounds will not be disposed of before the onset of monsoon.

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FCI asked to lift monthly 1.2 lakh tonnes of kharif rice to store rabi harvest

With a bumper crop of rice this kharif, the Government has requested the Food Corporation of India (FCI) to lift at least 1.20 lakh tonnes of rice every month from the State to make space for rabi procurement.

According to a review by the Food Supplies and Consumer Welfare department in the last week of May, the Government has procured nearly 46 lakh tonnes of paddy which is equivalent to over 31 lakh tonnes of rice.

“Paddy procured till the end of May is 41 per cent more and the custom milled rice (CMR) delivery is 44 per cent of the kharif marketing season last year,” Food Supply Secretary Madhusudan Padhi said.

The Odisha State Civil Supplies Corporation (OSCSC), the nodal agency for paddy procurement, has purchased 42.35 lakh tonnes of paddy (equivalent to 28.8 lakh tonnes of rice) by the end of May. The corporation has, however, delivered 12.4 lakh tonnes of rice out of which nearly 3 lakh tonnes have been delivered to FCI.

Bulk of the rice procured by the corporation goes to the public distribution system to meet the BPL rice quota of the State. The total annual requirement of BPL rice in the State is about 22 lakh tonnes.

The latest estimate of the State said that over 13.88 lakh tonnes of rice have been delivered till the end of May. The CMR so far delivered is more than 16 lakh tonnes which is likely to rise due to bumper rabi harvest, Padhi said. Official sources said over 5.05 lakh tonnes of rice have been delivered to FCI during the current kharif marketing season (KMS) and utilisation of storage space is 88 per cent.The State Government has requested the Central agency to evacuate at least 1.20 lakh tonnes of rice from the State every month. Accordingly, FCI has been shifting rice stock from the State to make space for rabi procurement.

The Government has planned to deliver 1.78 lakh tonnes of rice to FCI in June, the sources said. In view of the bumper production of rice, the State had to revise its procurement target from 30 to 35 lakh tonnes for 2012-13 kharif season.

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Kalahandi: from hunger deaths to a rice revolution

Odisha’s Kalahandi district — once the cause of global embarrassment for India due to its high number of starvation deaths — today stands tall with a five-fold increase in its rice production since 1999, figures reveal.

The agriculture ministry’s recent crop data ranks Kalahandi among the top 25 rice producing districts of India. The three-year average of its rice production ending 2010-11 was 468,000 tonnes, compared with a three-year average of just 82,000 tonnes for 1998-99.

Collector Gobind Chandra Sethi attributed the rise to “around-the-clock” irrigation and better farm input. The year 2010-11 was in fact historic as the production that year was 635,000 tonnes, an increase of 200,000 tonnes over the previous year and the reason for the top-25 billing.

The picture, however, was different in 1985, the year then PM Rajiv Gandhi visited Kalahandi and famously said: “Of every rupee spent by the government, only 17 paise reach the intended beneficiary.”

Planning Commission deputy chairperson Montek Singh Ahluwalia, who was then serving in the prime minister’s office, recalled: “Gandhi returned from Kalahandi and asked us to start a central fund to deal with starvation deaths there.” Gandhi’s personal interest resulted in the Centre’s first direct intervention in Kalahandi.

A long-term programme was worked out to improve the livelihood of people in not just Kalahandi but the adjoining districts of Bolangir and Kolatpur as well.

Further, a new district of Nuapada was carved out of Kalahandi, and the other two were also split for better administration, with the result that a total of eight districts were eventually covered. Since 1998, the Centre has pumped around Rs4,500 crore into the eight districts, with the result that Kalahandi’s rice production has consistently increased since 2003-04.

The picture, however, is not all rosy. The percentage of poor people in the district stands at 50% today, down from 88% during Gandhi’s visit to the undivided Kalahandi but still higher than Odisha’s poverty line of 37%. Not only are many parts of Kalahandi still backward but several impoverished regions of the undivided district are now part of Nuapada, which hasn’t seen as much progress as Kalahandi.

Such indicators have pushed the Centre to have a re-look at the definition of backwardness. Ahluwalia said there is a need to consider whether an entire district or certain blocks within it should be considered backward. “The dynamics of measuring backwardness have to change with time,” he said.

The finance ministry has already constituted a committee under chief economic advisor Raghuram Rajan to redefine poverty and come out with a composite development index for states based on new parameters.

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Kharif crop area increased

Sambalpur : More areas in the district will be brought under cultivation of paddy and vegetables during this year’s kharif season that begins in June.

Sambalpur District Agricultural Strategy Committee (SDASC) recently set a target of cultivating kharif crop in an area of 1, 95,610 hectares (ha) against 1,93,607 ha during last year. Paddy comprising high yield, hybrid and local varieties will be cultivated in around 1,04,800 hectares with production target of 4,22,600 tonne against 4,10,396 tonnes in 1,04,800 hectares last season.

Pulses will be cultivated in 37,900 ha with a production target of 22,200 tonnes and vegetables in 24,800 ha. Likewise, condiments including chilli, ginger and turmeric will be cultivated in 6,860 ha and oilseeds in 15,459 ha.

In a bid to achieve the target, irrigation potential has been enhanced from 64,072 ha to 65,206 ha while about 23,687 quintals of seeds will be provided to the farmers. Apart from this, steps will be taken for soil profiling and micro-nutrient test, acid soil management through application of paper mill sludge and gypsum, increasing production through utilisation of quality seeds and irrigation potential, promotion of bio-fertiliser besides capacity building of the farmers and farm labourers through training and exposure visit.

Deputy Director of Agriculture, Sambalpur, Ashok Mohanty said farmers of the district would be encouraged to go for non-paddy cultivation during kharif season.

He also advised the farmers interested in paddy crop to opt for Line Transplanting and System of Rice Intensification (SRI) for better production.

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