BHUBANESWAR: Balasore district is all set to lay the course for achieving increased agricultural productivity and consequent income enhancement for the farmers. A massive exercise will soon go underway in the district to change the dynamics of agriculture by empowering the farmers with latest technology inputs and implements, quality seeds and appropriate cropping strategies.
The first-of-its-kind project of the country for ‘augmenting farm productivity’ to be launched by NABARD envisages increasing farm output by 30 per cent and farmers’ income by 50 per cent in three years. All the 12 blocks of the district would be covered encompassing at least two lakh farmer households over three years starting from ensuing kharif season 2012.
Balasore district has been chosen for the experiment as it provides climate and ecosystems of all parts of the State. It has submerged coastal land, midland and uplands, thereby enabling designing of approaches for varied ecosystems.
Besides, it is predominantly agrarian, small and marginal farmer centric with landholdings less than the State average of 1.25 hectare and prone to natural disasters like floods, Chief General Manager, NABARD Odisha Region, KK Gupta told this paper.
A whopping Rs 3,211.86 crore has been worked out as the project outlay with short-term and long-term credits accounting for Rs 2,626.72 crore and beneficiaries’ contribution or margin money to the tune of Rs 514.65 crore. According to Gupta, a multi-pronged integrated strategy, involving the Government, various departments, institutions and research agencies, NGOs and foremost the farmer community has been hammered out for the project. For crop productivity the strategy encompasses use of appropriate crop varieties, improving soil health, planning and timing of crop, use of quality inputs like seeds and putting in place an effective technology transfer system.
“For increased access to technology, small farm implement hubs would be established across the district allowing farmers to hire technological implements and equipment. While store houses would be established, the thrust would be more on containing wastage which would directly add to the income levels of the farmers,” Gupta said.
The project would be undertaken by the Krishi Vigyan Kendras (KVK) of Balasore and Bhadrak districts through NGOs as project facilitating agencies. Master farmers would be identified from among the 115 farmers clubs in the district, who will be trained and provided with all inputs. They would in turn train their counterparts lower down the order.