DHENKANAL: Though the Government has been promoting cultivation of cash crops, including oilseeds, though incentives to farmers, lack of access to credit has hit the sunflower growers of the district hard.
According to Agriculture department sources, sunflower is grown over 400 acres in different blocks of Dhenkanal district, while around 100 acres are cultivated under a national scheme and the remaining areas are covered by farmers with their own expenses. Farmers begin groundwork for sunflower cultivation after harvest of paddy in December and reap oilseed by March-end. But due to lack of bank loan and Government support, several farmers are giving up this cash crop farming.
A farmer, Arun Samal, of Bandhua village, 20 km away from the district headquarters, said despite repeated review meetings under the chairmanship of the Collector, financial assistance to a priority sector like sunflower farming is being ignored by the banks. Farmers toil hard to prepare land without irrigation, grow oilseeds sans Government support and guard the farm fields from animal attacks round the clock, he added.
Similarly, several farmers in Neul Poi village near Joranda have grown sunflower in more than 10 acres along Dhenkanal-Joranda road, said Aditya Samal, another farmer of the village. “We get only free seeds from the Agriculture department for cultivation. But lack of bank loan has affected farming in the mid-stage of the crop as it requires more water supply and fertiliser. We have crushing machines in the village to process the oilseed. One acre of sunflower cultivation provides more than 400 litres of oil.
Though it is a lucrative crop, adequate support from all levels for the farming will strengthen rural economy,” he said.Deputy Director of Agriculture (DDA) Chhabindra Behera said banks are reluctant to sanction loan to small and marginal farmers despite a directive. Banks release loans to big farmers, farming units and cashew factories. However, the Agriculture department provides `4,000 per acre to sunflower growers towards fertilisers and pesticides under National Mission on Oilseeds and Oil Palm (NMOOP) project.
AGM of Nabard R K Tripathy said cash crop needs financial support to cover more areas. There should be joint cooperation by banks, district administration, agriculture and horticulture departments and farmers’ body to promote the crop.