frequent protests by farmers during procurement season
STATESMAN NEWS SERVICE
Sambalpur,, 5 December
Farmers, district officials and millers are at loggerheads over the FAQ (fair average quality) of paddy. The result being frequent rasta roko (road block), agitations and gherao by farmers during the procurement season.
Farmers argue that due to the cyclone Phailin, they have suffered loss and the paddy has been discoloured to a certain extent. The millers should bear with it and the FAQ norm has to be relaxed. But millers refuse to oblige saying FCI is not purchasing rice from us in the relaxed norms and is very strict on the quality. Hence, rice produced from below FAQ paddy is difficult to be delivered to FCI”. “If FCI doesn’t cooperate or government doesn’t fix relaxation norms, it is miller who has to bear the loss. And we are not in the procurement business to incur a loss,” said a mill owner. “FAQ paddy is also not under the control of the farmers and they bear the burnt of the natural calamities like cyclone and floods or unseasonal rains. They need to press for compensation or insurance coverage rather than force us to buy the low quality paddy.”
In the scenario of acute shortage of agricultural labourers and price hikes in fertilizers and pesticides, the cost for cultivation has increased manifold.
In such situation any cut in the rate would be nothing but a blow to the farmers,Ram Sagar Sahu a farmer leader of Sindurpank area.
The government officials have a different version. They say that farmers sell good quality paddy directly to millers and get a good price for it. They bring the discolored or low quality paddy to the market yards set up by the government agencies and demand a minimum support price. The farmers are using their organizational strength to put pressure on administration to buy the low quality paddy, said officials.
Sambalpur CollectorBalwant Singh said that in no circumstances a single farmer would be harassed in the market yards. “Millers have been asked to lift paddy from the market yards or face consequence.”