Koraput District, Orissa, January 23, 2006,

Centre for Youth and Social Development (CYSD), the project partner in Orissa conducted the Third Outreach Meeting under the GRANITE project at Ghumar and Doraguda panchayats under Boipariguda block of Koraput district on January 23, 2006. The discussion at Ghumar panchayat involved 17 farmers of which three were large farmers, four medium farmers, one small farmer and nine sharecroppers. Women farmers were fairly represented in the group with representation of eight women. In contrast, the discussion at Doraguda panchayat saw a lower participation of only nine people of which only one was woman. Being a tribal dominated area, almost all the participants of both the panchayats were from scheduled tribe (ST) community.


The objective of the meeting was to gather people’s perception from the grassroots level on trade related issues with respect to agriculture on both domestic and international front.


Agriculture is a primary source of livelihood and food security for large majority of population in both the panchayats. Agriculture season begins with April and May when land is prepared for agricultural activities. With onset of monsoon in the middle of June, the main period for the agricultural activity begins, which continues till mid-December. Besides agriculture, people of Ghumar panchayat also depend on collection and marketing of Non Timber Forest Product (NTFP) and some also work as agricultural or daily wage labourer. Sparse forest covers in the vicinity of Sunaundari village that force the villagers to go for daily wage earnings.

All the participants who took part in the discussion at Sunaundari village were landless farmers. The people of the region spend nearly eight months of the year in agricultural activities. Cereals like paddy and ragi, pulses, oil seeds and varieties of vegetables are primarily grown in this area.


For the meeting, Ghumar panchayat was selected and group discussions and personal interviews were carried out among the villagers on the issues designed on a preset checklist. In order to cross check the responses of the people in the focused group discussions (FGDs), personal interviews were carried out. These tools were chosen because it is less time consuming and also economical.

Following are the key issues probed on agriculture through both FDGs and personal interviews:

Cropping Pattern

As rice continues to be the staple food of the people, paddy is the major produce in the region. There has been a significant expansion of area under high yielding variety (HYV) paddy in both the panchayats despite inadequate irrigation facilities. A deeper probe during the discussion revealed that HYV seeds returned with high yield, which have good market demand. There was a mixed opinion regarding the taste of the paddy produced from HYV seed: while some participants opined that it was good to taste, some said it was not. Those who responded in negative were of the view that higher yield, however, was the sole factor behind adoption of the HYV seed through which food security for larger part of the year could be achieved. Now the Agriculture Department is providing newer HYV seed of ragi in exchange of the old one.

The farmers in both Ghumar and Doraguda panchayat use different varieties of high yielding seeds in different periods of the year like 1001, 1010, 1030, Surya, Jajati, Lalata, Masoori, Jaya, Culture, instead of the old varieties like Patanchudi, Kalamuli (still in use because of its taste despite less production), Budikauri, Umriachudi (still in use because of its taste despite less production), Assamchudi, Dandamuhan, Kainseri Baigunda, Kalajeera, Gothia, Bodamanji, Tigichudi, Aldichudi, Mathi, Para, Mati, Mara. On the contrary, farmers are still using the same variety of ragi seeds like Chilli Mandia, Marda Mandia and Badi Mandia, which were used earlier also.

Pulses are the second most important food grain produced here. Some of the important pulses produced are: Green gram, Kolatha and Kandula. Vegetables like bitter gourd, pumpkin, cucumber, brinjal, cauliflower, Jhata, simba, bean, onion, green chilli, tomato, radish etc., are produced. Vegetable production is primarily meant for household consumption and if at all there is any surplus, people sell it in nearby local weekly markets. Major oil seeds grown in the locality are Alsi and Rasi, which are used for both domestic and marketing purposes. In village Sanaundari, farmers exchange Alsi for mustard/ palm oil and salt. Earlier, turmeric and ginger were also produced in this village for commercial purposes, but as it did not fetch good money, their cultivation was abandoned. Now, the villagers of Sanaundari are producing turmeric in very low quantity for household consumption only.

These findings were indicative of the fact that farmers are wooed by the government in particular to adopt new high yielding seed varieties. Besides, it is a matter of concern that people are loosing traditional crops like ginger and turmeric because of lack of marketing facilities, which could have fetched them good money as cash crops.

Agricultural Inputs

Seed Distribution System

The state government made arrangements for seed distribution through block offices, but the villagers cannot get the seed in time due to lack of information within the villagers. Owing to this late information, the less amount of seed distributed by the block offices does not cater to their need. The Village Agriculture Worker (VAW)/ Gram Sevak visited several times to the panchayat but did not provide any information related to the distribution of seed. It becomes cost effective for the villagers to go to the nearby panchayat to collect such information.

Seed Collection Method

To counter artificial seed crisis, farmers resort to their own resources. In case somebody fails to utilise the saved seed for some reason, the usual practice followed is to borrow seed from fellow villagers or from farmers in the neighbouring villages. However, some farmers also borrow seeds from local moneylenders. Besides, they depend on local markets where seed for vegetables are available. The farmers apprehended that if they ask for seed/loan from block/bank, they are being denied of that owing to non-possession of legal land holdings. They gather information about the new seed variety from their relatives and fellow farmers of their neighbouring villages and use it only after testing it in their field. CYSD with the help of PRAYAS, a Non-Governmental Organisation (NGO) has provided seeds for the vegetables like brinjal, tamato and onion as well cucumber, bitter gourd and ridge gourd to the farmers.

Soil Suitability

Based on the experience of the farmers about the soil suitability, the seed varieties are used. In some villages under Ghumar panchayat though the soil was taken by VAW for testing, no report has been submitted. However, the farmers of both the panchayats expressed their desire to have demonstration of soil testing mechanism, as it would help in increase in the production in high land areas where irrigation is a major impediment.

Use of Fertilizers

Farmers of Ghumar panchayat mostly use chemical fertilizers like Urea, Gromour and Potash for better and immediate results. However, the marginal farmers in Sunaundari village use these fertilisers in low land cultivation while they resort to use of bio-fertilizer only in Donger or upland cultivation. In Ghumar panchayat, the farmers were of the opinion that chemical fertilizer did not affect their land because of the use of compost notwithstanding the fact that use of such ferlizers are harmful to human health. Others were demanding change in the soil quality i.e. from soft soil to hard soil.

Financial Support

Farmers find it easier to get financial support from Self Help Groups (SHGs) and local moneylenders than Large Size Agricultural Multi-Purpose Society (LAMPS). Credit flow from SHGs is increasing, as rate of interest is fairly low, whereas, it is comparatively high in case of LAMPS. Majority of the profit of the farmers goes in repaying the loan to the moneylenders immediately after the harvesting season. If a cultivator cannot repay the loan of the moneylender due to certain reason, he has to sell a quintal paddy at half the market price. This finding is indicative of the fact that the credit facility through SHGs can bolster agricultural activity in the area for which there is a need for promotion of SHGs and efforts should be made to sustain their finance. Despite the tremendous preservation ability of the farmers to avoid any crisis regarding availability of seeds, there are, however, certain bottlenecks they face in availing agricultural inputs, which are mainly the communication gap between VAW and the panchayat. On the other hand, lack of soil testing and demonstration create difficulty in procurement of seeds in time.

Input vs. Output

During the FGDs, the farmer participants were asked to calculate the input versus the output cost. It was calculated only for paddy for one acre of land and was found that using less chemical fertilizers resulted in very low input cost, whereas, in Ghumar panchayat, as the farmers use more chemical fertilizers they have more production.

Gender Perspective

The area has a clear division of labour in performing agricultural activities. While the women perform most of the agricultural activities except for tilling the land, the men primarily till the land, and help during fertilizer application and also during harvesting. In some cases, the children also assist their family in tilling the land and other such activities.

Trading the Produce

Though the government has fixed Minimum Support Price (MSP) to procure paddy, the traders and middlemen do not pay the actual price. As there is no provision of government-established mandis in the nearby areas, the villagers are forced to depend on local shops and traders for selling their product. These traders have a monopoly in terms of price fixation and procurement. The local moneylender who acts as a trader here usually buys paddy from the farmers, and pays much less compared to the price fixed by the government. The district administration has not taken any steps to control these traders both in terms of ensuring procurement and minimum support price. However, according to the farmers of Ghumar panchayat, the government also procures paddy from the farmers through Food Corporation India (FCI) where certain mill owners of nearby towns act as designated agents of FCI. These agents purchase paddy from the open market at rates considerably cheaper than the MSP and deliver it to FCI.

With regard to the trading of other agricultural produces, the villagers in both the panchayats depend on the local markets. Price of the products has remained almost same which they used to receive 5-10 years ago. While on one hand, increase in labour cost, irrigation cost and price of fertilizers have raised the inputs; on the other hand, the procurement price of paddy has remained constant. Moreover, the farmers have no clear idea about the subsidy. The government has subsidised the rate of rice under Public Distribution System (PDS) and it has found way into the local market. Thus, the producers face a stiff competition from these subsidised rates and are forced to lower their prices as a survival strategy.

Overcoming Trade Barriers

The farmers were of the opinion that domestic trade barriers can be overcome by initiating following measures at the policy level:

  • Information required on different schemes and market price;
  • Reducing the price of fertilizer/pesticide;
  • Increasing the MSP;
  • Improving the agricultural services; and
  • Providing institutional support to monitor the agricultural trade and programme.

Major constraints for the improvement of livelihoods/income of small and marginal farmers are lack of knowledge about prices, quality parameters, sustainability aspects of rice production and the lack of lobbying power. To overcome such problems, the farmers on their part should adopt better agricultural technology, and resort to cash-crop agriculture and diversify agriculture into horticulture. Besides, the farmers can also go for campaigns against corruption and advocacy for better government facilities.

On Globalisation

The farmers neither have any idea whether their products finds a way into the world market nor any idea about the acceptance of global standards for the products. They were also not sure of any competition being faced by imported agricultural products from other countries. Nevertheless they suggested, “if imported products are posing threat to our own products, we need to standardise as well as increase our products in order to survive the competition”.


The Outreach Meeting spells out more or less the same picture. Lack of irrigation facility, inadequate credit facilities, middlemen playing highhandedness in trading of the agricultural produce, lack of marketing infrastructure, non-implementation of soil testing and demonstration mechanism, no steps taken to save the traditional seeds and to stop use of chemical fertilizers, lack of proper dissemination of information on modern agricultural knowledge and technology are some of the bottlenecks in developing agriculture in these areas.

It is evident that there has always been a significant change in the cropping pattern. But there is hardly any substantive evidence to show the benefits that World Trade Organisation (WTO) has brought into agriculture in Orissa.