Farmers in distress
Underpricing rocks coastal Orissa
By Debasis Tripathy in Kendrapara
After Andhra Pradesh and Bihar now it is the turn of the farmers of the coastal Orissa who are going to commit sucide suffering from under-rate pricing of paddy backed by administrative callousness and exploitation.
According to sources after lossing everything in the super cyclone of 1999 the farmers of Kendrapara however tried their best to produce grain in the saline water flooded fields. But as the misfortune comes with its kith & kins, the drought of 2001-2002 and 2002-2003 (partly) destroyed the agro-based ecomomy of this district. During 2003-2004, farmers got good quantities of grains due to an excellent harvest, but it did not end their plights. As the production of paddy exceeds the limit, under-rate pricing wrapped the cultivators who were forced to sell their sweat drenched produce on a nominal price even less than their cost of production. This year due to good mansoon farmers have got satisfactory production. But due to the under pricing, they are incurring a huge loss.
In order to protect the farmers the state government declined a nominal supporting price but in reality the poor farmer neither gets this nominal benifit nor the benifit of government paddy purchasing centers, as proposed to be opened in every block to purchase crops directly from the farmers. As per the direction of the state revenue department the nominal supporting price has been fixed at Rs. 530 to Rs. 560 per 75kg but in reality the farmers sell their crops much lower than this price even at Rs. 330 to Rs. 275 per 75kg incurring loss of Rs. 200 to Rs. 300. On the other hand the proposed paddy purchasing centers have been wrapped in the red tape. Though a committee has been framed being chaired by the district collector to tackle this problem, it is not sucessful. Last year this committee fixed the target to purchage 40 thousand MT of paddy directly from the farmers but failed even to purchase half of that. This year is a mere repetition of that, admits Hemant Sharma the district collector. Firing shells at the FCI Shri Sharma said: ?We requested the FCI to appoint some inter district agents to solve the problem but after repeated reminders no further development has been made.?
While the poor farmers are suffering from under pricing plights on one hand, the government does not hesitate to impose rent and to hike water cess on the other. The state government imposes Rs. 100 per Ac. as water cess which was at Rs. 40 in the previous year. Surprisingly the non-irrigated lands and even the water-lodged lands are being imposed with this water cess. Farmers of Derabish block allege that more than 200 of non-irigated land owners have been directed to pay water cess.