DHENKANAL: After crop failure and debt burden due to drought, cowpea cultivation has become a beacon of hope for distressed farmers of Sadar block in the district.
The fodder crop farming, first of its kind in the State, has been taken up under National Livestock Mission in the district. The State Government has received the foundation seeds from the farmers of Maharashtra.
After declaration of cowpea as commercial fodder recently, the State Government started cultivation of the crop in 125 hectares (ha) in Sadar block of the district on a pilot basis. The crop has been grown in Patrabhaga, Badrapalli, Sankarpur, Banasingh, Bhagirathipur and Bimal villages of the block. The Agriculture Department has extended technical knowhow to the farmers for growing the crop.
Sources said the cowpea crop, which can be harvested in a very short period and does not require much irrigation, could provide a financial boost to the farmers. After harvest, the State Government will collect the cowpea seeds from Dhenkanal and supply to other blocks for expansion of cowpea cultivation. Around 500 quintals of seeds will be supplied to other districts.
Pradeep Sahoo, who has grown the fodder in five acres, of Badrapalli village, said, “We will get Rs 20,000 to Rs 30,000 per acre from the crop by the month-end. This is a very lucrative crop being cultivated on commercial basis in our block.”
Sadar block Assistant Agriculture Officer Anil Chandra Das said the Veterinary department has signed an agreement with the farmers directly to purchase the fodder crop from their field. The officials of Agriculture department and National Livestock Mission have been providing technical support, he added.