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Odisha: Women farmers doubling farm income the Mission Shakti way

The concern of women farmers to market farm produce is over with the Agriculture Production Clusters linking them directly with the market and traders

Published: 04th May 2021 07:38 AM  |   Last Updated: 04th May 2021 07:38 AM   |  A+A-

This summer, 23 women farmers of the Kalyani Producer Group have cultivated watermelon in a cluster mode in 38 acre of land by adopting improved practices

This summer, 23 women farmers of the Kalyani Producer Group have cultivated watermelon in a cluster mode in 38 acre of land by adopting improved practices

Express News Service

At a time when women farmers have been largely marginalised under an unacknowledged informal agricultural workforce, Sarojini Oram of Jharsuguda district has proved her mettle by becoming a successful farmer amid the gloom over rising coronavirus infections. This 40-year-old woman from Aitapali village in Laikera block has been cultivating two crops every year. After paddy, she cultivates watermelon and vegetables in her 1.5 acre of land. This year she has earned a profit of Rs 55,000 in the last two months by selling watermelon. Sarojini is a part of Kalyani Producer Group, involving 98 women farmers of 10 Self Help Groups (SHGs), under the Agriculture Production Cluster (APC) of Jharsuguda.

This summer, 23 women farmers of the producer group have cultivated watermelon in a cluster mode in 38 acre of land by adopting improved practices. Though earlier the women farmers have been struggling to fetch a good price of vegetables, the concern of marketing farm produce is now over with the APCs linking the farmers directly with the market and traders, who are lifting the stock from farmers regularly under a transparent system. “After the paddy crop, I had cultivated watermelon. Now the entire crop of around 150 quintal has been sold. This time we did not do much to sell the produce. Extra labour and transportation costs were also saved. Ladies finger crop is now ready to go to market,” said Sarojini, who manages a four-member family.

Jharsuguda now has 47 producer groups comprising 6000 women farmers from two blocks. The synchronised farming method gives a bulk yield of high quality crops, leading to the production of hundred quintals of seasonal vegetables. Promotion of APC in tribal regions of Odisha with the support of Mission Shakti is an initiative of the State government to improve livelihoods of women farmers through collective production and marketing of agriculture produce through the self-regulated Farmer Producer Organisations (FPOs)/ Producer Company of around 3,000 to 5,000 smallholder farmers in a defined area. Mission Shakti Commissioner cum Director Sujata R Karthikeyan said the programme, being implemented by the Agriculture department with convergence of a number of schemes, aims to double the farm income of one lakh women farmers in 40 backward blocks of 12 tribal dominated districts over a period of four years by enabling women SHG members to have better control and access over farm income.

“Mission Shakti is supporting the initiative that focuses on diversification of cropping systems and setting up critical infrastructure for agriculture by establishing local mechanisms for input services, ensuring improved package of practices and adoption of non-pesticide management practices. Women farmers through APCs strive to institutionalise the marketing process to ensure fair prices and organise the production system resulting in higher income,” she said. The programme is being initially implemented in Kandhamal, Rayagada, Kalahandi, Koraput, Keonjhar, Mayurbhanj, Dhenkanal, Balangir, Nuapada, Jharsuguda, Sambalpur and Boudh for a period of two years commencing from April 1, last year. So far 363 producer groups involving around 45,000 women SHG members have been formed and 30 producer companies in the 12 APC districts have been promoted. Apart from this, capacity building of around one lakh APC members in agriculture and livestock sector is being conducted so that they can adopt improved cropping practices in agriculture and livestock rearing.

Around 3000 SHGs will avail the credit support facilitated by Mission Shakti to take up improved vegetable cultivation and livestock rearing. Each APC comprises around 20 to 25 producer groups where coordinated production, primary level value addition and vibrant collectives to manage and avail different services are taken up. It helps synchronize production of a common basket of commodities to create a marketable surplus and build an ecosystem to provide various services required for the farmers in a sustained manner. Earlier farmers used to face a lot of hurdles in successfully selling their produce in both local and city markets and the local traders were reluctant to procure the vegetables due to low production. While they found it difficult to create a considerable demand for the crops in the local market, the production quantity was not enough to meet the comparatively high demand of the city markets.

Mission Shakti Deputy Secretary Binod Kumar Jena said there was an urgent need for a holistic intervention in order to positively address the multi-layered challenges faced by farmers and improve the marketing situation. “Absence of a proper network had made it difficult for the farmers forcing them to leave their fields untended for a long time and travel to markets to sell their produce. The APCs have started addressing the issues properly and making the situation better for farmers,” he maintained. The State government has also roped in several NGOs for capacity building of farmers on the best and sustainable farm practices. “We have been imparting training farmers on the selection and methods of cultivation of cash crops, preparation of natural pest management and organic fertiliser, shorting/ grading and packaging besides facilitation for aggregation and marketing linkage,” said Secretary of Social Education for Women’s Awareness (SEWA) Sushil Kumar Dash. SEWA has been tasked for the promotion of women farmers and producer groups, including Kalyani group, in Laikera and Kolabira blocks.



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