Odisha Farmers Block Roads To Protest Centralized Rice Procurement System
Hundreds of farmers piled their rice products on main roads in various parts of western Odisha on Saturday, demanding the withdrawal of the centralized token system for the acquisition of the harvest in the state market yards.
The farmers, under the banner of Paschim Odisha Krushak Sangathan Samanway Samiti (POKSSS), demanded the purchase of rice from the entire region on the basis of the harvest report, presented by the department of agriculture of the districts in question.
POKSSS coordinator Lingaraj said that the rice procurement system should be decentralized.
The government has decided to purchase 19 quintals of rice per acre of irrigated land and 13 quintals of dry land. But the decision was made in Bhubaneswar.
“This has to be taken at the district level. In a decentralized procurement system, Primary Agricultural Cooperative Societies (PACS) play a fundamental role and generate tokens for the sale of the harvest in the market yard. But the tokens are being generated from Bhubaneswar, ”he claimed.
Bargarh Subdivision Police Officer Deepak Kumar Gochhayat said rice farmers blocked National Highway 53 in Attabira for more than five hours.
“As people faced serious difficulties, we were forced to stop about 40 farmers to clear the road,” he said.
In Sambalpur, farmers parked their vehicles loaded with rice in Sindurpankh on NH-53, protesting against the “flawed” procurement system and refused to discuss with district officials.
However, the police detained at least 15 farmers there to clear the road at night.
Farmers from Deogarh, Jharsuguda, Sonepur and Balangir districts also held demonstrations and sit-ins to protest against the centralized procurement system.
Food Supply and Consumer Welfare Minister RP Swain said some vested interest groups have been agitating on behalf of farmers to disrupt the procurement process.
He said senior department officials in each district have been assigned to oversee the process and ensure transparency in the system.
“If the farmers had raised the issue in the district level procurement committee (DLPC), the government would have considered their demand. More than 56% of rice has already been purchased in 16 districts. It is not possible to review the decision now ”, added the minister.