Farmers in the upper Kuttanad region of Thiruvalla taluk are concerned over the inordinate delay in the procurement of paddy, reportedly owing to certain anti-farmer bargaining tactics by rice mills.
Harvesting has almost been completed in Niranom, Kadapra, Peringara, Nedumpram, and Kuttoor and the paddy has been kept ready for transportation.
The Civil Supplies Corporation has identified 20 rice mills for procurement of paddy from the upper Kuttanad region this year.
Mathews Abraham, a farmer from Peringara, told The Hindu that the number of rice mills for paddy procurement from upper Kuttanad had been halved this year.
Various private rice mills have been procuring paddy on behalf of the Civil Supplies Corporation.
The godowns of almost all the rice mills are reportedly full with the paddy procured from the lower Kuttanad region.
Now, the rice mills had started pressurising the farmers to share some profit with them, alleged Mathew Varkey, a peasant from Niranom.
He said the mill owners sought a reduction of 5-10 kg per quintal of paddy for speedy procurement, which would eat into the farmers’ profit.
Upper Kuttanad Karshaka Sanghom (UKNS) president and district panchayat member Sam Eapen said the Supplyco authorities had to make necessary arrangements for paddy procurement from the upper Kuttanad villages without further delay.
The farmers and farm workers said the delay in paddy procurement might lead to heavy losses in the event of summer rain.
Mr. Eapen alleged that shortage of headload workers and inadequate transportation facilities had been affecting paddy procurement.
He said of the procurement rate of ₹25.30 a kg, ₹15.50 was the share of the Union government and the rest that of the State government.
He said farmers were a disappointed lot due to the shooting cost of production, labour charge and transportation expenses. The heavy farming cost had already eaten into the farmer’s profits.
He said the handling charges of ₹12 every 100 kg for the harvested paddy was fixed in 2001-02 and it remained unchanged even today, despite the manifold increase in the labour charges during the period.
He called upon the government to make necessary arrangements to speed up paddy procurement from upper Kuttanad.