The government, of course, has convinced the disgruntled farmers in Bargarh to participate in paddy procurement, but the newly introduced online token system is not to the best of their convenience.
Farmers in different parts of Odisha are resorting to aggressive demonstrations over the issue. The Nabanirman Krushak Sanghathan, a farmers’ activist group, has called for the complete withdrawal of the system. It had staged a march to Naveen Nivas on Thursday with the demand. There were two other road blockades also in Western Odisha against the new mode of paddy disposal. One was at Bareipali in Sambalpur, and the other one was in the district of Bargarh.
Reports of farmers’ protest from the districts of Jeypore and Malkanagiri are also there. They complain that there are farmers who have not got the token though they have their paddy ready. Some farmers have obtained token, but they have not harvested their crops.
Internet and gadgets are also issues in remote areas for poor farmers. Besides, the centralized system in Bhubaneswar is not an easy-to-access entity for the farmers to get their concerns addressed.
Bargarh MP Suresh Pujari, raising the issue in the Lok Sabha, said that the token system would destroy the farmers in Odisha. He demanded to reintroduce the first-come-first-serve method of paddy procurement.
However, Ranendra Pratap Swain, Minister of Food and Supply in the Odisha government, has refused to review the centralized online token system citing it as transparent and farmers-friendly. But farmers can avail locally generated token to sell their paddy. Protesting farmers in Sambalpur and Bargarh withdrew their strike after the government representatives- Susant Singh and Rohit Pujari, made such an assurance to them.
Odisha government has scheduled to open paddy procurement for the Kharif season from November 1 through a centralized mechanism. It has targeted to buy 60 lakh Metric Tons of Paddy from farmers in this Kharif Marketing Season (MKS) through various agencies. The government has encouraged Women Shelf Help Groups (SHG) to take part in the exercise. Other agencies to participate in the procurement process are PACS, LAMPCS and Pani Panchayats.