DHENKANAL: Saddled with problems in post Covid situation, farmers who were lured into taking up pineapple cultivation due to its low cost of production are a disappointed lot bereft of any government help.
Neither have they been provided saplings and slips for propagation, nor are they imparted technical know-how. Aware of benefits from commercial cultivation of the tropical plant, farmers in the district had evinced interest in taking up the cultivation of pineapple.
Apart from less investment, the cash crop is pest resistant and survives dry spells. In the post Covid-19 situation, the fruit would have yielded high returns.
Moreover, this crop would survive elephant fodder raiding seasons. But while the central nursery at Saptsajya is yet to get pineapple slips, even private farms have not shown much inclination in developing saplings.
The nursery reportedly does not even have a mother block for pineapple while it has the provision for other fruits like mango, guava, papaya, etc. The farmers also say they have not been provided technical assistance to grow the crop.
As per reports, farmers are growing non-paddy crops over 33,000 hectares (ha) in the district, except pineapple. Very few of them are growing the fruit on a small-scale in their backyards.
According to Horticulture department officials, the soil in Dhenkanal has good humus content and pineapples can be grown here large scale like in Gajapati district.
The plant can be grown in inter-cropping system or partial sheds. Five months back, the department had requested help from the Centre by asking for funds for pineapple cultivation under MGNREGS but the proposal was rejected.
Meanwhile, the Horticulture department deputy director Lokanath Jena informed that the State government has recently sanctioned funds worth Rs 3 lakh for creating a new pineapple mother block to grow nursery-certified saplings for farmers.
“We will request Central Horticulture Export Station for pineapple slips and saplings for the Saptasajya central nursery so that we can grow over 32,000 saplings next year in single row.”
Admitting that the district has favourable climate and good humus content for growing the cash crop, he said, this crop can help farmer earn good in the post- Covid situation.