ROURKELA: To augment the availability of potato and onion, the tribal-dominated Sundargarh district has targeted to cover around 2,000 hectares (ha) under potato cultivation and about 1,000 ha for onion in the current Rabi season.
The distribution of seed potato is underway from October 26 while onion seedlings are being raised at nurseries. But farmers are seemingly discouraged to take potato cultivation due to high price of certified seed potato of K-Jyoti variety at `35.5 per kg.
Sundargarh Deputy Director of Horticulture (DDH) Basudev Sahu said the administration also plans to cover 133 ha in Gurundia, Rajgangpur, Kutra and Lefripara blocks under the convergence initiative of horticulture and watershed schemes. So far, 1,200 quintals of total 2,082 quintals of seed potato have been supplied and farmers in the four blocks would get incentive of `30,000 per ha under convergence initiative, he added.
In the rest 13 blocks, potato farmers registered under Rashtriya Krishi Vikash Yojana (RKVY) would be entitled to get incentives of `20,000 per ha. He said a section of the farmers have resorted to germination of seed potatoes and sowing would continue till December in the district.
About onion cultivation, he informed that 160 ha are covered under the State Plan Scheme and 16 quintals of seed onion have been supplied at a subsidised cost of `250 per kg. The DDH claimed that in rest of the district, farmers have taken up onion cultivation on 940 ha at their own and onion seeds are being developed at nurseries for transplantation after 45 days.
Sources said sandy loam soil is most suitable for potato crop with each ha requiring about 15 quintals of seed potato and after 105 days, the average potato yield is expected to be 10 tonnes per ha in the district. Similarly, each ha requires 10 kg of seed onion and after 150 days, each ha is likely to produce 10 tonnes of onion on an average.
Deputy Director of Agriculture (DDA) RN Satpathy said to boost potato and onion cultivation, adequate cold storage facilities are required. He hoped the recently opened cold storage facility in Bargaon block of 5,000 tonnes capacity and an existing facility of 1,500 tonnes at Rourkela would be helpful to some extent.
Potato farmers, however, continue to be worried about market uncertainties as in 2015, potato price had crashed drastically leading to distress sale of locally grown crops.