BHUBANESWAR: Despite farmers suicides in frightening regularity and assurances of a robust harvesting season, paddy crisis is once again threatening the farmers. As the Government sat pretty in announcing the paddy procurement policy for 2011-12 kharif marketing season, farmers have started selling their produce to rice millers and private traders much below the minimum support price (MSP) fixed by the Centre.
Paddy harvesting has started in a big way in many parts of the State, but the farmers have no other way but to go to the private traders. The Government, which often claims opening of large number of procurement centres, is yet to start mandis (market yards) and announce the agencies for procurement.
�According to reports, farmers are selling paddy at ` 700-800 per quintal against the MSP of `1,000. Every year, the food and procurement policy is decided by October second week to facilitate the Government-appointed agencies to put their men and machineries in place before paddy starts arriving at the mandis.
�Besides, the agencies need time to arrange funds which they source it from commercial banks as credit.
�Nuakhai, the harvesting festival celebrated on September 2, heralded the arrival of new paddy. Two months have passed since then and harvesting is on. In some areas, farmers have also started processing long-duration crops.
�Slamming the Government for its lack of concern, senior BJP legislator and former minister Jaynarayan Mishra said small and marginal farmers are forced into distress sale to repay their loans to the� money-lenders.
�Ironically, institutional credit support hardly works for the small and marginal farmers and they mostly depend on local money-lenders to raise crops.
“They could have got a better price for their produce had they sold the same to the Government agencies. However, the inordinate delay in operationalising the mandis are forcing the loanee farmers to sell their paddy to the money lenders much below the MSP,” Mishra rued.
�While erratic monsoon considerably delayed the kharif operation this year, successive natural calamities like drought and flood caused extensive damage to paddy crops in many districts.