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    As Paddy Procurement by Odisha Govt Fails Farmers, It is Time to Consider Options

    The state of Odisha is at the moment witnessing large-scale farmers’ protests because of the non-procurement of paddy (kharif crop) from a number of farmers, regardless of the peace of mind given by the state authorities underneath a centralised token system. The opposition events, Bharatiya Janata Celebration (BJP) and Congress, have raised the difficulty inside and out of doors the meeting, holding the Naveen Patnaik authorities on the backfoot.

    Below the token system, Paddy Procurement Automation System (P-PAS), which goals to make the procurement course of clean, environment friendly and clear, 14. 97 lakh farmers registered themselves by way of an Aadhaar-linked on-line system. The farmer is issued a token generated from the state capital and is given a time interval of 1 month to promote his/her paddy on the close by paddy procurement centre (PPC) (cooperative society/mandi) on the minimal assist value (MSP). Because of the linkage with Aadhaar, the farmer must be current on the mandi to authenticate his/her biometrics whereas promoting the produce. The fee is to be made on to the financial institution accounts of the farmers. In some circumstances the place there are points with the web, offline procurement preparations are additionally made.

    Responding to the opposition expenses within the meeting, the minister of meals provides and shopper welfare division Ranedra Pratap Swain knowledgeable that the state had already procured past its quota for the yr. It has procured 56.67 lakh tonne paddy by February 23, which is above the restrict of 54 lakh tonne mounted for the kharif season.

    After preliminary reluctance, the federal government mentioned it should proceed procuring paddy from the registered farmers. In observe nonetheless, this isn’t being executed, leaving the farmers both resorting to misery gross sales to native merchants, which implies a lack of about Rs 500 to Rs 600 per quintal, or ready within the mandis. The MSP is Rs 1,868 per quintal this time for paddy, whereas the speed within the open market hovers between Rs 1,100 and Rs 1,400.  

    In Bargarh district, roughly three lakh tonnes of paddy is mendacity within the mandis, as per an estimation by a farmers’ group there. In coastal districts like Kendrapara, Jagatsingpur and Ganjam districts, the state of affairs is worse. The farmers introduced their paddy in time as prescribed within the token offered to them, however the time interval lapsed because the miller didn’t procure it.

    Millers procure paddy on behalf of the Odisha State Civil Provides Company of the federal government. Farmers are unable to depart their paddy within the mandis unattended, so a lot of them are tenting there.

    Earlier, in January, the state authorities requested the Centre to launch the pending subsidy cash in order that the procurement course of will not be hampered.

    What led to this case?

    There’s a clear discrepancy between the anticipated amount of paddy, which is the sum of the quota of paddy assigned to every farmer by way of the tokens, and the procurement restrict that authorities has set. Because the procurement restrict is mounted at 54 lakh tonne and nonetheless there are registered farmers awaiting their produce to be taken, the mismatch is conspicuous. The federal government ought to have anticipated this case and ready a roadmap to take care of it.

    The millers and cooperative societies haven’t been capable of match the pace of procurement as prescribed by the division. In a number of circumstances, the millers will not be capable of procure the entire quantum of paddy on the day, which was presupposed to be procured as mandated by the tokens.

    For instance, on a specific day in a mandi, there are 15 farmers awaiting to promote their paddy. The miller’s car doesn’t have house to take all of the paddy that day, leaving the produce of two or three farmers on the cooperative society’s godown or within the verandah. In some locations in Nuapada district, the miller didn’t come for per week or two to the procurement centres, delaying the procurement. Normally, this delay in procurement has brought about expiry of the time interval given to the farmer within the token issued and they’re denied the chance to promote produce for no fault of their very own.

    Regardless of the token system, floor studies recommend the existence of sturdy collusion amongst totally different gamers on the procurement level. Whereas the token system has the potential to minimise the position of middlemen, the very provision of assigning a ‘time-limit’ has given house for such collusion.

    Consultant picture. An APMC mandi at Gariyaband in Chhattisgarh. Picture: Neeraj Mishra.

    The extra issue the farmer faces, the extra common merchants, who function outdoors the MSP system, stand to learn. In a number of cases in Nuapada, Balasore, Puri and different districts, because the token time restrict has expired, the farmers have made a misery gross sales to the native merchants on the price of Rs 1,100 to Rs 1,300. The token system itself is open to manipulation.

    Sources recommend that in lots of circumstances, the native merchants and millers have bought paddy from unregistered farmers (and even registered farmers profiting from expiry of token time) at a decrease price however the identical is proven as having been procured underneath the quota of a registered farmer – huge or small. In change of this ‘lodging’, the ‘received over’ huge or small farmer is given a value. This might not be potential with out collusion among the many millers, native merchants and cooperative authorities.

    In Odisha, the state authorities has undertaken a progressive observe of assigning self assist teams (SHGs) to obtain paddy, and now millets, within the type of ‘decentralised procurement’. Sadly, there are additionally complaints that in a number of circumstances the native merchants are working within the guise of SHGs and are manipulating the procurement system.

    The collusion amongst millers, cooperative society staff or merchants is a harsh actuality, although it’s troublesome to know the quantum of such undesirable/unlawful transactions. However this will likely properly stop real farmers, primarily small farmers, from benefiting from the procurement system. It is usually understood that the millers keep on good phrases with the native politicians and their foyer may be very sturdy.

    Enhancing the system 

    Procure the remaining paddy: The state ought to make an evaluation and procure the paddy from the omitted registered farmers. It will stop the farmers from resorting to misery sale. The federal government also needs to make the figures clear – what’s the whole quantum of paddy anticipated at mandis primarily based on the tokens issued, and what are the monetary implications?

    Decentralise to district-level: Below the present centralised system, the state authorities has divided the state into two forms of land – irrigated and non-irrigated to calculate the per-acre manufacturing.

    Within the irrigated land, it has mounted 19 quintals per acre of land, whereas the identical for non-irrigated land is 12 quintals as per-acre manufacturing for the aim of procurement. This division will not be actual. The amount of manufacturing needs to be finalised on the district stage – reckoning with the distinction between the irrigated and non-irrigated land inside the district.

    Whereas the token system is a step in proper route to smoothen procurement course of, this needs to be decentralised to the district stage. The district stage is right as neither it isn’t too centralised to overlook out on native wants nor not too decentralised to be manipulated by the domestically influential gamers.

    Decentralised procurement may be higher monitored from the district stage. Time interval on tokens might be given, however needs to be made versatile and the district collectors ought to have the facility to vary it primarily based on rising state of affairs, and the millers needs to be made accountable to obtain the paddy in time interval.

    Farmers carry wheat as they return to their houses following heavy rainfall induced by Cyclone Amphan, in Birbhum district of West Bengal, Could 21, 2020. Picture: PTI

    Diversify procurement: Over time, the paddy manufacturing within the state has risen. A number of initiatives by the state authorities in the best way of investing on irrigation, subsiding the borewells in coastal areas, offering varied subsidies and enhancing the procurement, amongst others have yielded outcomes.

    The federal government can repair a restrict of procurement holding its monetary skill and announce it. The answer is to not switch the onus to the personal corporations (as the brand new three central farm legal guidelines have executed), however to encourage and incentivise farmers to diversify the crops. One of the best ways to encourage individuals to domesticate different crops is to obtain them on the MSP. In Odisha, solely paddy is procured, and now millets are additionally being procured in tribal areas.

    Diversification of procurement of different crops by the state authorities also can cut back monetary burden. The state authorities ought to put together roadmap to obtain different crops like cotton, pulses, oilseed, sugar, and so forth. There may be already manufacturing of such crops in Odisha. Their procurement will encourage the farmers to divert from paddy cultivation to different crops. The roadmap ought to embody tips on how to develop infrastructure, technique of procurement, establish areas that are particular for sure crops and so forth. The Kalia scheme might be linked to incentivise the farmers to develop numerous crops.

    Strengthen monitoring system: With a view to minimise manipulation of the system, random visits needs to be executed by the district and block officers to the homes of some farmers (wealthy farmers primarily) to see if they really have the quota of paddy, they’re prepared to promote on the mandis. Devise different types of monitoring through the procurement. It will minimise the misuse of the token system and the collusion elements working at native stage. Accountability at totally different ranges needs to be mounted – cooperative, miller, SHGs, and so forth.

    Grievance redressal mechanism: There needs to be a chosen authority on the block stage and one in district stage to redress the grievances in per week’s time on any challenge referring to the procurement. 

    Give desire to the ladies farmers in procurement: There are single girls (widows and others) who’re registered as farmers underneath the token system. Choice needs to be given to obtain their produces and save them from any problem throughout procurement. The federal government might additionally plan procuring their produce from their homes. 

    Lengthy-term infrastructure growth: As greater than 90% are small and marginal farmers within the state, as noticed by Exercise report 2019-20, Division of Agriculture and Farmers’ Empowerment, Authorities of Odisha, the state authorities ought to strengthen its procurement infrastructure as a lot as potential.

    In Odisha, millers procure paddy from farmers on behalf of the federal government. Within the current association, the infrastructure needs to be strengthened. The millers must make the method clean, not bunk on some days leaving the farmers in misery.

    Giant areas, godowns, machines that filters the undesirable components from paddy to make it honest common high quality (FAQ) suitable, and so forth., needs to be in place within the recognized PPCs/mandis. The state also can consider making a Punjab and Haryana mannequin of growing its personal infrastructure together with the chilly storages, and so forth., in 5 to seven years’ time.

    Pradeep Baisakh is a senior journalist primarily based in Odisha. He will be reached at 2006pradeep@gmail.com

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