ROURKELA: Smarting under trader manipulated market which swings vegetable prices in either ways, the Sundargarh district administration has launched fresh attempts to boost local production of potato and onion.
The farmers in the tribal-dominated district had abandoned potato and onion cultivation almost 25 years back due to lack of storage facilities. Sources said the move comes after the district having a total population of above 21 lakhs was affected by steep hike in prices of the two staple vegetables recently.
Deputy Director of Horticulture (DDH) Basudev Sahu said about 210 hectares (ha) of land having sandy loam soil across 17 blocks of the district have been taken up for potato farming. Shortly, 4,200 quintals of seeds would be supplied and cultivation activities are expected to start from first week of September.
He said each hectare would require 20 quintals of seed and after 105 to 120 days of farming, the district would be able to harvest about 42,000 quintals of potato. About 20 ha with loamy soil will be taken up for onion cultivation and 20 quintals of seeds have reached seedling stage, he added.
Sahu said transplantation of onion seedlings would begin by mid-September. By December, the district would be able to harvest 3,000 quintals of onion with each hectare producing between 150 and 200 quintals.
On the flip side, the farmers may face trouble in case of bumper harvest as the district lacks Government-owned cold storage facilities. The administration pins hope on a private cold storage at Rourkela.
Seven new cold chamber facilities with combined capacity of 65 tonnes in Nuagaon and Bisra blocks have been lying defunct in absence of three-phase power connection. At the Zilla Parishad meeting on Wednesday, Sundargarh Collector Bhupendra Singh Poonia asked WESCO officials to ensure power supply to the facilities at the earliest.
Agriculture officials admitted that potential farmers of Panposh and Bonai sub-divisions had abandoned potato and onion farming 25 years back, the reasons being closure of two Government-owned cold storages at Kuanrmunda and Rajmunda.
According to a marketing intelligence officer, Rourkela city needs around 600 quintals of potato and 200 quintals of onion on daily basis. While bulk of the tuber comes from West Bengal and the rest from Uttar Pradesh, Nasik in Maharashtra supplies onion.
Civil Supplies Officer (CSO) Abhiram Pradhan claimed that the district’s daily requirement of potato is around 1600 quintals and 600 quintals of onion. The department is keeping a close watch on the price of the two items.
A wholesaler Arun Prasad welcomed the district administration’s move towards gaining self-sufficiency in potato and onion production.