BHUBANESWAR: With farmers no more keen on commercial production of tomato, onion and potato (TOP) crops in absence of institutional price stabilisation measures, the State Government has planned to incentivise farmers growing the three vegetables.
After the failure of State Potato Mission, the Horticulture wing of Agriculture department has chalked out a plan to extend financial support to farmers growing tomato. The assistance will be to the tune of Rs 20,000 per hectare under TOP scheme of the Centre.
“The scheme will be piloted in Keonjhar and Mayurbhanj districts with a cluster approach in the Rabi season to encourage farmers to take up tomato farming in a commercial scale,” said sources in the Horticulture Directorate.
Tribal-dominated Keonjhar and Mayurbhanj have been selected for Government intervention as these two districts are the top producers of tomato due to suitable soil and prolonged cold climatic conditions during winter. However, farmers, mostly tribals, failed to recover the cost due to lack of storage facility and proper marketing linkage.
With the bumper harvest of tomato last year but lack of demand, farmers of Keonjhar resorted to dumping the highly perishable vegetable on roads to register their protest against Government apathy towards their interest.
Though the Ministry of Food Processing Industries (MoFPI) has operationalised ‘Operation Green’, a scheme to stabilise the price of tomato, onion and potato, from last year, Odisha has not taken advantage of it.
“The scheme, if properly implemented, will lead to enhancement in income of farmers growing tomato, onion and potato, capacity building of farmer producer organisations (FPOs), reduction in post-harvest losses, creation of processing infrastructure, provision of agri-logistics for supply chain and reduction in price volatility of TOP for consumers,” the sources added.
The State has identified five districts for the development of agro-processing clusters of fruits and vegetables under the Centrally-sponsored Kisan Sampad Yojana (KSY). Apart from Keonjhar and Mayurbhnaj, the three other districts which are major producer of tomato and other vegetables are Balangir, Ganjam and Sundargarh. Balangir is one of the major producers of onion in western Odisha.