Shortage of sunflower seeds hits farmers

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Farmers usually begin groundwork for sunflower cultivation after harvest of paddy in December and reap oilseed by March-end.

KENDRAPARA: Acute shortage of sunflower seeds has hit farmers of Kendrapara district ahead of the rabi crop season. Distressed farmers have resorted to buying the seed at exorbitant prices from open market.

Farmers usually begin groundwork for sunflower cultivation after harvest of paddy in December and reap oilseed by March-end.This year, farmers had set a target to raise sunflower over 1200 hectare (ha) of land which requires 12,000 quintals of seeds. But short supply of seeds and lack of Government support have hit the farmers hard, delaying the cultivation.

Prafulla Nayak, a farmer of Patarapur village, alleged that the district agriculture officials are not making efforts to supply sunflower seeds on time. The planting season has sparked off a rush for sunflower seeds but its acute shortage has affected the farmers, he said.

Taking the advantage of the situation, unscrupulous traders are selling sub-standard  sunflower seeds at `250 to `300 to farmers in local markets. They fear that if the issue is not tackled soon, it will severely damage the sunflower prospects in the district, said Tapan Sahoo, a farmer of  Marsaghai.

Sunflower cultivation is a suitable alternative to paddy crop in riverside areas of Aul, Rajkanika, Garadapur, Mahakalapada, Rajnagar and Kendrapara blocks in the district. Large number of farmers prefer sunflower over paddy as it is a short duration crop. “Farmers can earn more profit from this cash crop which yields a minimum 15 quintal per ha while its market price is `5000 per quintal,” said Bijaya Parida, a sunflower farmer of  Patkura.

Sunflower is one of the most sought after edible oils in the country. Thus, there is a huge demand for the oil seeds and oil mills are ready to pay good price for the produce. Many paddy farmers have switched from the traditional crops to sunflower for better returns, said a farmers’ leader and demanded the State Government’s intervention into the matter.

Deputy Director of Agriculture Mitradoya Das said the official price of sunflower seed is `205 per kg. The Odisha State Seeds Corporation (OSSC) will soon supply the seeds to the farmers, he said.

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