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Odisha farmers agitation begins against govt paddy plan for SHGs


Bhubaneswar, Aug 29: Farmers in Odisha's Koraput district are up in arms against state government's proposal to engage women self-help groups (SHGs) to procure paddy during the Kharif Marketing Season beginning November.

Representational image

Alleging that women SHGs lack infrastructure and do not have experience for the job, the farmers in the district demanded that the crop should be procured through large area multi-purpose cooperative societies (LAMPS) like before.

The agitating farmers also claimed they had submitted a memorandum to the district administration raising an objection to paddy procurement by women SHGs, but "no action" has so far been taken.

"The procurement process will be in a mess if women SHGs are allowed to procure as the groups are mostly unorganised and inexperienced. The involvement of SHGs will give rise to irregularities," claimed Basant Nayak, an agitating farmer.

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He further said, if the SHGs were allowed to procure paddy, no farmers would register themselves with the government to sell paddy at 'mandis' (crop procurement centres). As part of their agitation, a large number of farmers staged a blockade on National Highway 26 near Kumuliput in Jeypore block of the district on Wednesday.

Traffic came to a grinding halt on the national highway due to the road blockade and hundreds of vehicles were stranded on either side for around three hours. "The grievance of the farmers is being communicated to the state government through the district collector for necessary action," said Sub-Collector (Jeypore) Loknath Dalbehera.

Officials said it has been decided to involve the women SHGs in the paddy procurement process to strengthen the economy of these groups.

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So far, at least 17 women SHGs have registered to participate in the procurement, but two of these groups were disqualified after a complaint was received against them, they said.

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