BHUBANESWAR: As Odisha meets a majority of its vegetables and fruits requirement from neighbouring states, the State government on Thursday constituted a committee to prepare a work plan for achieving self-sufficiency in production.
The committee headed by Agriculture Production Commission Raj Kumar Sharma has been mandated to prepare a target specific and time bound work plan for up-scaling the fruit and vegetable production in the context of different agro-climatic zones of Odisha.
The Agriculture Department was asked to take inputs from the experts, farmers and agri-entrepreneurs and suggest the interventions required in terms of the agri-input, post-harvest management, cold storage and market linkage.
The Chief Secretary asked the committee to see that the plan is workable. The State Potato Mission launched in 2014-15 to achieve sufficiency in tuber production failed to take off due to inherent weakness in the planning and lack of desired support from the State government for development of required infrastructure.
The Horticulture directorate was asked to list out those species and varieties for which Odisha has a higher potential.Development Commissioner Pradeep Jena advised to focus on the vegetables like cauliflower, cabbage, tomato, potato and onion; and, the fruit species like papaya, banana, guava and lemon.
Director Horticulture Rohit Kumar Lenka said that Odisha ranked first in the production of sweet potato, second in brinjal, fifth in watermelon, cauliflower, okra, tomato, and sixth in bottle gourd at national level as per horticulture area production information system (HAPIS) reports 2019-20.
Similarly, in the fruit production category, Odisha ranked second in jackfruit, fifth in lemon, seventh in sapota, ninth in mango.The report said that Odisha ranked seventh in production of 11 kinds of vegetables and 11th in production of variety of fruits. The total fruit production in Odisha was about 24.82 lakh tonnes, vegetable production was 97.98 lakh tonnes and spice production crossed 20.2 lakh MT.
Agriculture Secretary S K Vashishth said that the fruits like banana, mango, guava, papaya, lemon, sapota, pineapple, watermelon and jackfruit; and vegetables like brinjal, tomato, sweet potato, onion, pumpkin, root crops, cabbage beans, peas are commonly produced in Odisha.
The Chief Secretary advised to select a small number of items in the first phase for a more focused intervention. The department was also asked to conduct farmers’ training and orientation programmes about the modern technique of cultivation and yearly return from these non-paddy cash-crops to enhance their income.