BARIPADA:A pilot project on rubber plantation has brought smiles on the faces of tribal farmers in Mayurbhanj district leading to enormous change in socio-economic status of the community. The cultivation has not only ensured sustainable livelihood for hundreds of villagers but also converted several barren land into green canopy.
Initiated in 1993 by the State Government and Rubber Board under the Ministry of Commerce and Industry, the project took off in small tribal villages of Jadunathpur in Barasahi block, Kendubadi in Udala, Kumargadia in Morada and some villages in Shamakhunta block in 2013.
According to a report, while it was cultivated on 1,400 acres of land in 2013, within three years, the plantation has been expanded to another 5,000 acres with the convergence of different Government schemes, farmers’ training and marketing linkage.
At present, about 4,000 tribal farmers of the district are directly involved in rubber farming, said an officer of Integrated Tribal Development Agency (ITDA), Baripada, Bramhananda Behera.
Earlier, the tribals were depending on paddy cultivation or forest produce to eke out their living. Now, with rubber plantation, they are able to earn `75,000 to `90,000 per annum from each acre.
The rubber, a non-perishable and long-term sustainable cultivation, is being supplied to tyre producing companies. The farmers were trained in Kerala and Tripura, the major rubber producing States of the country, he said.
While a rubber plant takes about seven years to yield, farmers can also take up inter-cropping on the land.
The farming is being undertaken on barren high land patches around Similipal sanctuary. More than 5,000 acres of land have been added to the green cover of the district through rubber plantation, the official said.
Rubber latex appeared for the first time in Jadunathpur block after plantation in 2012. People have earned approximately `70,000 per acre per year out from the plantation.The district administration has converged funds of different State and Central schemes like MGNREGS, National Horticulture Mission, Jalanidhi and Rashtriya Krishi Vikas Yojana to boost the cultivation, he said.
Sukhram Singh of Kendubadi, Jitwan Singh of Jadunathpur and Ramesh Singh of Madhupur, who first started rubber cultivation, have set an example for farmers of their areas and are now guiding others to take up the plantation.“The cultivation of sabai grass, paddy, other rabi and kharif crops is no more beneficial now as we receive marginal income. But rubber cultivation has created hopes among farmers to earn livelihood from farming,” said Ramesh.
Besides, the district administration has set up two rubber processing units jointly by the Rubber Board, ITDA, District Rural Development Agency (DRDA) and District Horticulture Department.
Deputy Speaker of Assembly Sananda Marandi, who recently visited Jadunathpur, said the village has scripted success in rubber cultivation and suggested that the district administration should bring other areas near Similipal under rubber farming.