Non-starter policy in Orissa

Updated: Nov 21 2005, 06:35am hrs
Though Orissas agriculture policy, 1996, focused on agro-industry, the sector is a non-starter.

The government has no time for farmers. It is busy signing MoUs for steel and aluminium, says Krushak Mahasangha president BP Das.

Orissa produces 60 lakh tonne rice, 2.5 lakh tonne pulses, 2 lakh tonne oil seeds, 12.6 lakh tonne fruits, 2,434 lakh coconuts, and 77 lakh tonne vegetables each year. But theres no value addition. Forced to sell rice without gradation, farmers get low prices. Grain markets are operational, but have no facilities to improve foodgrain quality. Fruits and vegetables suffer distress sales or go waste.

Apicol (Agriculture Promotion and Investment Corporation Ltd), set up in 1996, has not been able to deliver. Apicol signed an MoU with Apeda in 2003 for an AEZ for ginger and turmeric in Kandhamal and Koraput, which remains a non-starter.

Distress sale of farm products is common, admit officials. Krushak Bazars, initiated to assist with market intelligence, and grading and storage of farm produce, are yet to become functional.

Around 500 marketing co-operative bodies work under the apex Orissa State Marketing Federation. There are 383 large size agriculture and multipurpose societies (Lamps) to provide a package of services at a single contact point. But, for sure, farmers dont seem to have heard about these marketing societies.