Bhubaneswar, Dec. 10: With bumper harvests this year, maize growers of Odisha’s Nuapada district and sugarcane farmers of Ganjam district are now seeking appropriate prices for their produces. Absence of market yards has deprived the maize farmers to sell their produce and get due returns on their investment.
And, very similarly, non-revision of sugarcane prices creates an apprehension in the minds of the Ganjam farmers to get adequate returns.
Reports from Nuapada district, one of the major maize cultivation belts in the state, said the farmers are forced to sell below the minimum support price (MSP) with no market yard available for their harvest.
Over 2.5 lakh quintal maize has been harvested in Nuapada district this time. The MSP of the crop has been fixed at MSP for maize at Rs 1,850. However, the crop is being sold at half the rates in some places.
A drought-prone district with very little irrigation facilities, the farmers on the advice of agri-scientists and experts had increasingly turned away from paddy cultivation which brought them losses. To recover investment, the majority of the farmers have shifted to maize, taking inspiration from their counterparts in Nabarangpur and Kalahandi districts in the last few years. This, however, has presented a new set of problems for Nuapada. With the number of maize farmers rising every year, absence of market yards is forcing the hands of the growers.
According to sources in the district agriculture office, maize was grown over 8,000 hectare land this year in Sinapali, Komna, Boden, Khariar and Nuapada blocks. The yield this time is also higher than previous years. In last kharif, average yield per hectare was 30 quintal whereas this year, it has jumped to 35 quintal.
Reports added that most of the farmers are left with huge stocks of maize at their homes as they are not getting appropriate price for their produce. While many farmers are reluctant to sell their harvest at lower prices, some have already cleared their stock at Rs 1,300-Rs 1,400 per quintal.
Small farmers have even sold their harvest at Rs 800-Rs 900 per quintal to private traders of nearby Chhattisgarh.
According to Udaya Sahu, a farmer of Sialti village under Komna block who had grown maize over 12 acre of land this year and harvested around 42 quintal. He was expecting a better price this year as his income was affected due to Covid-19 outbreak.
“Last year, a trader from Kantabanji bought my produce at Rs 1,900 per quintal. However, this time I could not find any buyer and was forced to sell at Rs 1,200 per quintal in the market,” he said.
Nuapada’s chief district agriculture officer Babaji Charan Behera says the administration is aware of the distress sale but helpless since there are no market yards for maize in the state.
“We reviewed the procurement process of other districts but found no solution. After discussing with the district Collector, we recently sent a letter to the director of agriculture to entrust a procurement agency which can help the farmers get appropriate prices. We are also planning to form a producer group comprising maize farmers which will help in market linkage.”
As the problem of distress sale of maize is recurring every year, the agriculture wing is planning to encourage farmers to take up Ragi cultivation under the Odisha Millet Mission from next year. Farmers will get better profit as the State government is providing many facilities to promote millet farming, adds Mr Behera.
In Ganjam, the The Ganjam District Sugarcane Growers Association (GDSGA) onDecember 9 urged the district administration to begin the crushing process by the first week of January.
At a meeting with Collector Vijay Amruta Kulange on December 9, the association urged him to enhance the minimum support price of sugarcane to Rs 3,500 per tonne.
According to the president of GDSGA, Samir Pradhan, the sugarcane farmers of the district braved the odds to cultivate the crop on 8,000 acre land across 16 blocks.
“The farmers are expecting a bumper yield but they can make profit only if the MSP is increased because prices of fertiliser, seeds and other input costs have gone up. Sugarcane growers have spent around Rs 3,200 to Rs 3,300 per tonne,” he said.
The Association also requested the Collector Mr Kulange that farmers must be paid for the sugarcane supplied to Aska Cooperative Sugar Industries Limited (ASCIL). The amount must be credited in the farmers’ bank accounts within a fortnight. Kulange is also the president of ASCIL.
Moral of the story: Bumper harvests no cheers to farmers sans market yards and appropriate prices.