Paddy Procurement by WSHGs in Odisha :A Women’s Empowerment Odyssey

Bhubaneswar: Ten women members of Maa Mahalaxmi Self Help Group (SHG) of Banijara GP, Kalahandi district were very delighted to receive a communication  from the District Civil Supplies Office, Kalahandi. They had been engaged to
procure paddy on a pilot basis during Rabi 2018-19. An impeccable past  performance in SHG management qualified this group for the activity. The journey started with training of women SHG members on the process of online paddy procurement using Paddy Procurement Automation System (P-PAS), an ICT based
system conceptualized with the goal of obtaining a clean and correct database of farmers cultivating paddy and willing to sell their surplus paddy to the State agencies . This SHG was facilitated with establishment of required digital infrastructure comprising a laptop, a printer, reliable internet connectivity and
sufficient power back-up facility . This would enable them to undertake online operations in paddy procurement without any interruption. The SHG was further supported to hire a female Data Entry Operator (DEO) and a bookkeeper from among the local community to assist in the paddy procurement operation. The WSHG members were also trained to check the quality of paddy under Fair Average Quality (FAQ) norms and maintain records. They received support from the RMC staff towards availing paddy quality checking equipment and in
conducting the physical quality checks. Paddy was procured by the WSHG in RMC (Regulated Market Committee) market yard/mandi under Odisha State Civil Supplies Corporation (OSCSC). A commission of Rs. 31.25 per quintal of paddy
procured was paid to the WSHG for its services. With their hard work and handholding from the field functionaries of Mission Shakti, RMC and Food Supplies & Consumer Welfare Department, this SHG procured 41,424 quintal of paddy amounting to Rs. 7.24 crore during Rabi 2018-19, registering a net commission of Rs. 13.35 lakh. This has helped the SHG members secure a sustainable livelihood with enhanced food security, better healthcare and improved financial health.
In its first meeting on May 29, 2019 the Cabinet approved a proposal to tie up WSHGs with different departments for provisioning of government services and procurement in a structured manner amounting to Rs 5,000 crore over five
Under the unique livelihood convergence model, the decision of the State Government of Odisha to engage Mission Shakti WSHGs in paddy procurement has been a key milestone towards women’s empowerment in the state. The move was also expected to ensure that farmers receive the Government’s minimum
support price (MSP) for paddy without any exploitation by millers or private traders.
Paddy procurement operations involving WSHGs was successfully piloted in 17 Gram Panchayats of Kalahandi district engaging 17 WSHGs during Rabi season of 2018-19. 24,71,96 quintals of paddy were procured in the Rabi crop in Kalahandi district resulting in a turnover of Rs. 43.26 cr, with commission earning
by WSHGs amounting to Rs. 77.25 lakh, an average of Rs 4.5 lakh per group.
Witnessing remarkable success in paddy procurement by WSHGs in Kalahandi district, State Government decided to engage more WSHGs in paddy procuring districts in subsequent seasons. Capable SHGs are selected by the district level committees followed by training on procurement of paddy using the
digital platform. Starting from checking the documents to scanning the iris and Aadhaar cards, the women members have been efficiently undertaking biometric checks, online operations, weighment of paddy bags, moisture content estimation,
physical procurement and documentation in Mandis. Paddy procurement by WSHGs has been well appreciated by local farmers.
During Kharif 2019-20, 23.07 lakh quintal of paddy amounting to Rs. 419 crore was procured by 199 WSHGs in 11 districts accruing commission worth Rs. 7.2 crore. During Rabi 2019-20, 113 WSHGs were engaged in paddy procurement
in 112 GPs under 78 blocks of 8 districts. 17.58 lakh quintal of paddy amounting to Rs. 319 crore was procured generating commission worth Rs. 5.49 crore.
Currently, 223 SHGs are undertaking online registration of farmers for paddy procurement during Kharif 2020-21. Till date 312 WSHGs from 11 districts have been involved in paddy procurement in the state. They have cumulatively procured
43.12 lakh quintals of paddy amounting to Rs 781.26 crore earning net commission of Rs. 13.46 crore.
The unique livelihood convergence model adopted by Mission Shakti has provided WSHGs with business worth Rs. 1010.14 crore during the financial year 2019-20. Enabling environment, favourable policies and supportive governance have acted as key catalysts for women entrepreneurship initiatives in the state. The
5T mandate has further facilitated timely decision making process, teamwork on  convergence mode, adoption of transparency measures and integration of technology, paving way for transformative change in women empowerment in
Odisha. Women SHGs as torchbearers of a new socioeconomic revolution in Odisha are no longer a distant dream because of a dedicated approach of the State Government committed for women empowerment in the state.