ROURKELA : Sundargarh district, endowed with vast rain-fed lands, is making significant strides in crop diversification to enhance agricultural profitability. Yet, it has to go a long way to fully do away with paddy cultivation on bonded upland and medium upland to make agriculture profitable for farmers traditionally growing paddy.
Sources informed, in the just concluded kharif crop season the Agriculture department had revised paddy cultivation to 1.96 lakh hectare (ha) from its initial plan of 2.12 lakh ha to eventually enhance non-paddy coverage area to 1.17 lakh ha.
Under the Crop Diversification Programme in Mega Lift Irrigation Projects (CDPMLIP) about 29,500 ha were covered with non-paddy crops and farmers heavily incentivised to grow non-paddy crops during 2023 kharif season. In the ongoing rabi crop season about 27,900 ha are getting covered with cultivation of non-paddy crops under the Comprehensive Rice Fallow Management (CRFM) programme with thrust on cultivation of pulses including ‘moong’, ‘biri’, chickpea and lentils and oilseed, chiefly mustard cultivation. The district agriculture authorities have plans to introduce maize cultivation over 10,000 ha under the Mukhyamantri Makka Mission in the coming kharif crop season.
The district has about 3.13 lakh ha of farmland. During the kharif crop season, traditionally 2.09 lakh ha are earmarked for paddy cultivation over 55,000 ha of lowland, 95,000 ha of medium land and 59,000 ha of upland. Rest 1.04 lakh ha are earmarked for non-paddy crops.
Reliable sources in the Agriculture department said the focus is to encourage farmers to do away with the traditional practice of paddy farming on upland and medium upland. They said the high land pattern in the district is divided into bonded highland and non-bonded highland with majority tribal farmers traditionally growing short-duration paddy on bonded upland ignoring the risk of rain-fed condition and relatively low crop yield.
They said mostly poor farmers with small land holding grow paddy on upland for the reasons that they are conversant with the practice and to secure the staple food grain for own consumption.
The medium upland constitutes a sizable portion of the total 95,000 ha medium land which like the upland also cannot retain water for long, adding farmers are being nudged to divert to non-paddy crops on upland and medium upland, sources added.
Chief district agriculture officer Harihar Naik said for crop diversification, farmers are being offered high incentives, adding under the CDPMLIP the district for the 2023 kharif season has received about Rs 33 crores of which above RS 22 crore is meant for farmers as incentives and rest amount is used for other activities.
“Under the CRFM about 30,000 ha are getting covered with non-paddy crops in rabi season which is highest in Odisha. Sundargarh is gradually adopting non-paddy crops,” he added.
Lucrative farming plan
About 29,500 ha covered with non-paddy crops
Farmers incentivised to grow non-paddy crops during 2023 kharif
In the ongoing rabi season, about 27,900 ha are getting covered with non-paddy crops
Plans to introduce maize over 10,000 ha under the Mukhyamantri Makka Mission
The thrust is on cultivation of pulses including ‘moong’, ‘biri’, chickpea, lentils and oilseed
The district has about 3.13 lakh ha of farmland
During kharif, 2.09 lakh ha earmarked for paddy cultivation
Rest 1.04 lakh ha are earmarked for non-paddy crops