Odisha’s Farmers, Daily Wage Labourers Badly Affected by Note Ban

In Odisha, farmers are bring forced to skip an entire cropping season, while daily wage labourers have lost jobs.

3 min read
Hindi Female

With the sowing season for the winter (Ravi) crop in full swing, Nabarathi Kuanr, 60, of Sudrukumpa village, Kandhamal district in Odisha has no option but to skip a cropping season. He is unable to buy seeds and fertilisers from the government and cooperatives because of the scarcity of lower denomination notes after the Indian government declared that Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 banknotes have been demonetized.

They say the situation will improve in few days. But is the soil condition going to be the same and conducive for sowing till that time?
Nabarathi Kuanr, Farmer, Sudrukumpa village, Odisha  

For farmers who have sold their Kharif (autumn) harvest, the situation is worse, as they all have invalid Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 notes in cash, which are not being accepted by private businesses or government-run facilities.

Panchanan Mishra, a development activist of Phulbani who works for the welfare of farmers in Kandhamal district says:

They are not able to avail the limited exchange facility because banks ask the farmers for documents like Aadhaar or PAN card, which most of the tribal and backward farmers of Kandhamal district do not have.

Hapless Farmers

Local cooperative societies and district cooperative banks do not accept old currency notes and many farmers do not have accounts with nationalised banks. So farmers who have cash with them are helpless, Mishra told

As somebody’s misery is an opportunity for another’s cunning, middlemen have emerged to take advantage of the farmers’ helplessness.

Because farmers living in remote villages have to walk long distances to reach a bank to exchange their higher denomination notes, some middlemen take their notes at a value discounted by 20 to 30 percent. 
Udit Sahu, Customer Service Point, Dungriput village, Koraput district

Farmers and poor people living in rural Odisha and the tribal hinterland have been severely affected by the demonetization drive because coming to banks and getting their cash is a huge challenge for them.

Small businesses in rural Odisha are also in distress because consumers do not have the capacity to purchase even essential items due to non-availability of appropriate currency notes. “Transactions have dropped by more than 60 percent and it has been difficult to make a living,” Kalia Behera of Bhanjanagar village in the south Odisha district of Ganjam told

In Odisha, farmers are bring forced to skip an entire cropping season, while daily wage labourers have lost jobs.
Village women collecting hay from the farms. (Photo: iStock)

The situation is even worse for people who live on daily wages. Demonetization has badly hit Basanti Marandi, who hails from the northern district of Mayurbhanj in Odisha and makes a living as a daily wage labourer.


At least 3,000 labourers gathered at Bhubaneswar’s Nayapali labour point have met a similar uncertain fate. Having migrated from almost all parts of rural Odisha for survival, the state of these labourers is symptomatic of the situation of poor people across the state.

Only half of us get work these days because there are only selected takers and the demand of labourers has fallen due to restricted availability of lower denomination notes.
Maheswar Pradhan, Labourer, Bhanjanagar village, southern district of Ganjam

Most construction work has slowed down since the announcement of demonetization. Real estate, infrastructure builders and contractors are unable to accommodate daily wage labourers in their projects because of the scarcity of lower denomination currencies.

If the government claims that the intent behind demonetization drive is good, it required more preparedness on the part of the government to manage the post-demonetization situation.
Ashok Parida, Development Activist, Kandhamal

This was first published in, a communications initiative focused on rural India.

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Topics:  Black Money   Farmers    odisha 

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