BALASORE: The news __ price of mustard oil would touch Rs 100 a litre __ is music to ears of members of Palli Pragati Krushak Manch (PPKM) of Maitapur here. The farmers under the Manch have cultivated mustard in at least 3,635 acres and they expect a bumper harvest in the next two months.
The news augurs well for hundreds of peasants of Simulia block in the district too. Not only PPKM, farmers under Sampark Farmers’ Club, Green India Biotech and several other organisations have taken up mustard farming. They chose the cash crop over traditional crops like paddy, sunflower and groundnut, a decision fraught with risk but they were game for it. Now, they are looking forward to reap rich dividends.
Official sources said mustard has been cultivated in around 9,085 acres in the district.
Assistant Agriculture Officer (AAO) Balaram Bal said this year 3,900 farmers under 17 panchayats in the block have raised mustard. ‘’As per Government guidelines to promote mustard farming, the farmers were supplied with subsidised seeds, fertiliser and pesticides. Besides, four NGOs were roped in to help the farmers,’’ he said.
The crop diversion to mustard has been witnessed in the last few years due to increased demand and higher returns compared to other oil seeds.
Sources said average yield ratio in mustard is between 33 and 35 per cent compared to 17 per cent in soya and 30 per cent in sunflower.
‘’Only groundnut has a higher yield ratio of 40 per cent. But mustard is a versatile crop and can be easily grown even in dry, arid and little-irrigated areas. It is also highly pest-resistant and needs low investment,’’ said an agriculture official reasoning the farmers’ decision to go in for mustard farming.
‘’We hope at least a two-fold hike in profits this year,’’ said PPKM advisor Gajendra Behera.
Meanwhile, agriculturists from the State headquarters visited the mustard fields here and expressed satisfaction over the farming methods adopted by the farmers. Joint Director of Agriculture Babaji Giri, Deputy Director of Agriculture (DDA), Balasore, Dhruba Charan Pal and a team of officials felt that the region is on a par with Punjab which revolutionised mustard farming.