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NABARANGPUR:  BASANT RATH, Correspondent. – Notwithstanding suitable geoclimatic condition in the district the state government has failed to encourage the farmers of this district to take up vegetables in big way. The farming community in the backward Nabarangpur district is grappling with problem of plenty. The vegetable cultivation could have been the boon for the district, where 80 percent of the families live below poverty line. Arranging funds on their own for taking up vegetable cultivation is a tough task for them. Though farmers in some parts of the district grow vegetables it is not on a large scale of the 60,000 hectares of land for suitable for vegetables farming. Only 15000 hectares is being used for the purpose.

Even as the farmers diversing from paddy to cash crops, including vegetables, is being promoted to raise farmers income and make agriculture sustainable for them, back-up support like proper market linkage, the right kind of seeds, fertilizers nor technical knowledge required to increase the production. is not available. Majority of the vegetable growers being small and marginal farmers, they borrow heavily from local moneylenders to by the inputs. The major vegetable growing blocks of this district are hit by lack of farmer organizations, storage, transport facilities and market support. The farmers are rendered vulnerable to exploitation by traders and middlemen, and deprived of due returns.

A study revealed that farmers of the backward Nabarangpur get as low as 60 percenuntitled-93t of the actual marketing price of their produce as middlemen call the shots.  Nabarangpur is one of the largest vegetable growing district in the state with 26 thousand hectares under cultivation. It is found that around 45 percent of the vegetables produced in Nabarangpur are consumed locally while around 15 percent reach different parts of the State trough traders. The rest 40 percent of vegetables like onion, chili, potato, tomato, beans, brinjal, and other vegetables including European verities, cabbage, cauliflower, beans, radish, pumpkin and coriander are grown and exported outside.

The tribals sell their produce in the weekly markets of Nabarangpur, Papadahandi, Umerkote, Dabugam, Raighar, Kosagumuda, Jharigam and Chandahandi, and others in the district.  Traders and middlemen, also from other states, govern the entire marketing activities. When the market channel has more than one middleman, the share of the farmers comes down to as low.

The anomaly can be rectified by integrating the rural markets and developing infrastructure in the way of providing storage, processing, grading and export facilities. Introduction of contract farming at regulated marketing committee level with provision of giving technical inputs from sowing to harvest and procuring produce at committed price could also raise the farmer’s income. Lack of improved farm implements, improved seeds, production and productivity has remained stagnant or even tended to go down. There is no considerable effort to reverse the decline and get vegetable farming moving forward.