Bhawanipatna: Cotton farmers of Kalahandi and Nuapada districts are a distressed lot as they failed to get proper price for their produce due to lack of markets courtesy apathetic attitude of the concerned department.
Even as the government has fixed Rs 4,100 as the minimum support price (MSP) of cotton, farmers get a price between Rs 3,000 and Rs 3,500 per bale of cotton. Traders from outside of the state exploit farmers, capitalising on the lack of market linkages.
While the Cotton Corporation India (CCI) that controls procurement of cotton throughout the country set up 100 procurement centres in Andhra Pradesh, it opened only two centres in Kalahandi district, that too at faraway places from farming area. Farmers prefer to sell their produce at low prices to traders and their agents to having to travel to procurement centres to get MSP.
Adding to their woes, the CCI even closed these two centres after procuring a few thousand quintals of cotton from farmers this year. The farmers now have no option but to sell their produce to traders at whatever prices they get.
A local farmers’ outfit blamed it on the lack of departmental efforts to boost the agro-economy of the region and a clear absence of political will. The farmers are now under stress to repay their loans they have taken from banks.
Farmer leaders even criticised the government for fixing low MSP for cotton. Cotton is sold at Rs 6,500 per bale at open market while the MSP is Rs 2,400 less than this.
Cotton MSP had been set at Rs 4,100 per bale in 2014. The government should think of raising the MSP as the cost of production has considerably increased since then, they added.
Kalahandi Development Council secretary Rabi Dash said the state government takes no steps to ensure socio-economic security of cotton farmers. “Andhra Pradesh and Maharashtra governments have created a properly regulated market for cotton in sync with the policies of the Union ministry of agriculture. However, in Orissa, there is no political will, for which, the CCI has been adopting a step-motherly attitude towards the state.”
The black-marketers not only buy cotton from farmers at dirt cheap rates, they even take at least 10 kg extra per quintal by duping the sellers. As if this was not enough, they also charge 5 per cent of the price they give to farmers towards sale tax and payment of cess to regulated market committees.