BHUBANESWAR : As the State government is rigid in its stand on the sale of certified paddy seeds under direct benefit transfer (DBT) scheme and low uptake of seeds has become a concern for the Odisha State Seeds Corporation, a delegation of farmers on Tuesday met senior officers of the Agriculture department with a demand to sell seeds at a subsidized rate.
Around 40 farmers from different districts met Agriculture Production Commissioner cum Agriculture Additional Chief Secretary Sanjeev Chopra and Director, Agriculture and Food Production M Muthukumar and explained the difficulties faced by farmers for purchase of paddy seeds under digital platform.
The delegation requested Chopra to revert to the old system where the primary agriculture cooperative societies (PACS) were selling seeds at a subsidized rate to the farmers. Chopra told the delegation that the decision to sell seeds under the DBT scheme is taken to ensure that the subsidy amount is sent to farmers bank accounts without involvement of any intermediaries. Since it is a foolproof system, there is no chance of blackmarketing the seeds in the open market, said Mahendra Mishra, a farmer from Nayagarh district.
Chopra advised the delegation to talk to Agriculture Director. Muthukumar, however, took time to get inputs from field staff before making any decision on the issue. Pipili farmer Bipin Khatai told this paper that there is hardly any time as the monsoon is approaching ahead of schedule arrival. “We will be forced to buy seeds from the open market if the government sticks to its decision to sell seeds under the DBT scheme,” said Khatai.
The State Seeds Corporation is in quandary over the poor sale of its certified seeds. The PACS and other registered private seed dealers are not placing orders to the corporation in view of the poor uptake. The OSSC is stated to have sold 98,000 quintals of paddy seeds as against 1.5 lakh quintal during the same period last year. The seed sale was more despite the Covid pandemic situation.
The seed sale is not very encouraging in districts namely Balasore, Bhadrak, Jagatsinghpur, Nayagarh, Puri and Dhenkanal. Pre-positioning of fertilizer and seeds in these districts is not satisfactory. Agriculture Minister Arun Sahoo took stock of the availability of seeds and fertilizers in the State at a meeting here on Tuesday.