ROURKELA: An ambitious proposal mooted four years back to harness horticulture potential of Nuagaon, Bisra and Lahunipara blocks in Sundargarh district has been given a quiet burial by the Horticulture Department.
The proposed project was aimed at reducing the supply and demand gap with an integrated approach to help the local agro-economy grow on its own. This despite the fact that spiraling prices of vegetables due to vagaries of nature continues to be a perennial problem.
The commercial hub of Rourkela and its suburbs have six lakh population which offers a large market.
Farmers lamented that amid lack of logistical support like transportation, irrigation and cold storage facilities, the district has failed to become a horticulture crop production and processing hub.
A farmer of Nuagaon, Birsa Kerketta, said though the block has been a leading producer of vegetables and mangoes, lack of irrigation, transportation and storage facilities has compounded problems of farmers. He said the newly-constructed cold storage facility comprising five cold chambers with combined capacity of 45 tonnes is yet to be made operational. Another farmer Gajendra Sahu said the block has potential to grow vegetable crops thrice in a year, but the scenario is different. “Due to lack of good roads and marketing links for farmers, it is the middlemen who are benefiting,” he added.
Bisra block is adjacent to Nuagaon and it also produces considerable amount of vegetable crops. Vegetables are also grown in Lahunipara block in Bonai sub-division and Talbahali, Kuliposh and Budabhui gram panchayats of Lahunipara grow Litchi and Banana crops.
In 2010, the then Food, Supplies and Consumer Welfare minister Sarada Prasad Nayak had gave a proposal to increase the horticulture potential of the these three blocks, but after change of his portfolio, the proposal was put on the back burner.
Assistant Director of Horticulture, SP Nayak, said he is unaware about the earlier proposal.
Meanwhile, Union Tribal Affairs Minister Jual Oram has initiated efforts to develop Nuagaon block as a horticulture and food processing hub. At a recent review meeting, Jual asked the Panposh sub-division authorities to find a suitable location at Nuagaon for the purpose.