Not Much Headway in Crop Diversification - The New Indian Express

Not Much Headway in Crop Diversification

Published: 25th December 2013 10:32 AM

Last Updated: 25th December 2013 10:32 AM

Despite tall claims by the Agriculture Department, crop diversification in Western Odisha still remains a distant dream. Since most farmers opt for paddy cultivation, it has led to distress sale of the crop and brought the farmers at loggerheads with the district administration over procurement.

There have been instances when the district administration, even after achieving its procurement target, received more  stocks that arrived at the market yards.

During the last rabi procurement season, while it was targeted to procure around 20 lakh metric tonnes of paddy from this part of the State, the Government ended up procuring 36 lakh metric tonnes.

Although loans are being disbursed for crops other than paddy, nobody is sure how much of it is produced and  consumed. For instance, lack of Government support is forcing cotton growers in South and Western parts of Odisha to opt for distress sale of their crops.

Although there are market yards to sell cotton, very few buyers turn up and the prices have been varying every year. In the absence of any insurance cover or Government marketing support, farmers are left at the mercy of private traders.

Under these circumstances, they  cultivate paddy where they are at least assured of a minimum support price.

As far as marketing is concerned, it is disorganised and inefficient which indirectly leads to low productivity. Inadequate transport facilities, lack of storage, credit linkage, market information, and lack of awareness on value addition to crops continue to be some of the major constraints.

Farmer leaders said emphasis has to be laid on offering opportunities in terms of loans and creating platforms that can assure farmers sale of their produce. Besides, provision of minimum support price will encourage farmers to shift to substitution and diversification with better crops like cotton, pulses, groundnut and vegetables.

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