Anger of sugarcane, jute farmers in Odisha to reflect in polls

The decline in sugarcane cultivation is attributed to inadequate marketing and mill closures, leading farmers to reconsider their support for BJD candidates in upcoming elections.
Jute farmers harvesting their crops in Kendrapara district
Jute farmers harvesting their crops in Kendrapara district(Photo I Express)

KENDRAPARA: Farmers’ disillusionment with the ruling BJD over its alleged neglect and lackadaisical approach in establishing sugar and jute mills is likely to affect the party’s prospect in the ensuing elections.

It is worth mentioning that the coastal district is witnessing a decline in sugarcane and jute cultivation areas.

Umesh Chandra Singh, president of the district unit of Krishak Sabha, remarked that despite promises made by the chief minister and other leaders during the previous elections to set up a sugar mill, they failed to deliver on their commitments post-poll. Consequently, many sugarcane farmers expressed their dissatisfaction with the BJD. “As a result many sugarcane farmers are determined to teach the ruling BJD a lesson this election,” he added.

Odisha requires 2.21 lakh tonne of sugar annually but only two of the eight sugar mills are operational in the state, the Food Supplies and Consumer Welfare Minister Ranendra Pratap Swain had stated in the state Assembly in 2019.

The decline in sugarcane cultivation is attributed to inadequate marketing and mill closures, leading farmers to reconsider their support for BJD candidates in upcoming elections.

On the other hand, Kishor Panda, president of the district unit of BJP, assured sugarcane farmers of establishing a sugar mill if the saffron party comes to power in the state.

Similarly, jute cultivation in the district is shrinking due to governmental negligence, including the failure to supply jute seeds, labour shortage, irrigation issues, and limited market access.

Rajendra Rout, a jute farmer, stated that there is severe discontent among jute farmers towards the ruling BJD. The closure of the Konark jute mill in 2007 in neighbouring Jajpur district further contributed to the decline in jute cultivation in the region.

Despite assurances from the CM to reopen the closed mill, the state government sold off the only jute mill in 2021, dealing a severe blow to jute cultivation and leaving the farmers angry.

Responding to the concerns, Dhiren Sahoo, president of the district unit of BJD, highlighted the government’s efforts through various welfare schemes like KALIA for the farmers. He expressed confidence in getting farmers’ support for the BJD.

In Kendrapara district, sugarcane and jute are primarily cultivated in Patkura, Rajnagar, Mahakalapada, Aul, and Kendrapara Assembly segments, involving around 80,000 farmers.

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