JAGATSINGHPUR: More than a year has passed since the State government announced to expand cashew cultivation in Jagatsinghpur district but the plan is yet to take off causing resentment among locals. In February last year, it was decided to promote cashew farming in the district at a meeting chaired by the agriculture production commissioner. Later, the Odisha State Cashew Development Corporation Ltd (OSCDC) asked the district administration to identify land for the purpose.
Tehsildars of Kujang, Erasama and Balikuda were asked to identify a minimum of 100 acre of leasable land in each tehsil to raise cashew plantations. However, neither the administration nor the tehsildars have taken any steps to provide land to OSCDC for cashew plantations even after a year.
Sources said as part of the plan, OSDC had decided to develop different high-yielding varieties of cashew grafts with the potential of producing over 10 kg seeds per tree. The proposal also aimed to give employment opportunities to over 5,000 families, particularly women.
In the 1980s, cashew trees were planted over 5,000 hectare (ha) in Kujang, Erasama, Balikuda blocks owing to conducive climatic conditions. However, with no proper mechanism in place for conservation and nourishment of the crops, the output decreased over the years leading to the government’s decision to revive cashew cultivation last year.
Kujang tehsildar Smruti Priyadarshini admitted that land has not been identified for OSCDC’s cashew cultivation programme. Citing shortage of farming area, Erasama tehsildar Chittaranjan Mohant said,”There’s no suitable land for cashew crops in the block as Industrial Development Corporation of Odisha Ltd (IDCO) has acquired most of it for industries. The area that is left now is only forest and gochar land besides burial grounds.”
Erasama has a lone cashew processing unit. But with the cashew cultivation plan in limbo, the hopes of locals to boost their income have been dashed.