OOTY: Distribution of alleged inferior quality potato seeds by the Nilgiris Coop Marketing Society (NCMS) here, a seven-decade-old co-op society headquartered here, to the farmers in the hills has led to a suspicion that there could have been possible corruption or malpractice in procuring the potato seeds by the NCMS.
The NCMS had been helping the farming community here in providing farm implements in nominal costs and helping them to sell hill vegetables, especially the potatoes, through auctions.
Allegations of corruption and irregularities hit NCMS few times in the past. Its reputation touched a low an officer was charged in the scam related to strawberry promotion scheme and a couple of board members were charged in seed supply scam in late the 1990's.
Now, the allegations are made over the supply of potato seeds. Stating that the affected farmer members of the NCMS already took it up with the higher-ups in coop department, M. Vijayan, a farmer-member of NCMS charged that potato crops of many farmers who procured seeds from NCMS recently had withered, leading to this suspicion. “While farmers asked for potato seeds from ITC company, it was really shocking to know that some farmers, including me had been supplied with seeds procured from a company named as Mahindra. But, in the invoice given to us it bears the name of ITC potato seeds. While some seeds, ITC seeds as per the bill, in a bag containing 50-kg were sold at a rate of `1450 per bag, some others were sold at the rate between `1500 to `1600 per bag.
When initially farmers questioned about this three months ago, concerned staff at NCMS said that only the bag bears the name of Mahindra, but the seeds were from ITC. “It is now shocking to see that those farmers who were supplied with the seeds of Mahindra company in the guise of ITC, burnt their fingers as their potato crops withered thus making them to suffer huge loss," he explained.
Manjai V.Mohan, a member of the NCMS, who is also the President of Baduga Desam Party, a local political outfit here, said that the points to be looked into in this issue is that whether some sub-ordinate level officials in NCMS tried to play fool to supply inferior quality seeds by making some adjustment with the suppliers to ‘mint money’.
“The explanation given by some officials in this issue that excess rain was the cause of potato crops withering early is unacceptable, as those farmers who were supplied with ITC potato seeds raised their crops well and looking for good harvest now. The others who were supplied with the dubious seeds are bearing the burnt," he said
"Something is very messy here. We suspect that some officials tried to find ways for malpractice through seed supply in a small way this time to make it big in future," he alleged and demanded a vigilance enquiry into the issue.