Rajendra Prasad Mohapatra

With limited market facilities and processing units unavailable in Koraput district, growers of sweet potatoes in the region are badly suffering from distress sale of their products.

As per reports, farmers in Dasmantpur, Laxmipur, Potangi and Semiliguda areas of Koraput had undertaken sweet potato farming over a combined stretch of 3787 hectares of land. The bumper production of crops this season has resulted in rich harvest of around 80-100 quintals of sweet potatoes per acre.

However, farmers in the district are in distress as they are finding it difficult to sale their products due to absence of proper market facilities in the area. The price of their product is even lesser than last year, said market watchers.

As a result, sweet potato farmers are forced to sell their harvest to middlemen in Andhra Pradesh and Chhattisgarh at Rs 7 to Rs 8 per kg.

Expressing frustration over the situation, a farmer said, “We have been undertaking sweet potato farming since last eight years. Earlier we had sold our products at Rs 12 to Rs 13 per kg and had expected more profits due to bumper production. But this year we are forced to sell it at below par price.

“It has become increasingly difficult for us even to cover the cost of our production this year, forget about profit. We are wondering how to make both our ends meet,” rued the farmer.

However, the agriculture authorities have expressed shock at the allegations of the farmers and have informed that there is provision of adequate marketing facilities so farmers shouldn’t have any qualms.

“We are sending some products of the koraput farmers to the outside states with the help of women self help groups and Odisha Rural Development and Marketing Society (ORMAS). They are also selling their products in the local hats,” said Sarbeswar Bagudai, Deputy Director of Horticulture, Koraput.

Generally two types of sweet potatoes-red and white are produced in large quantities in Koraput.

Agriculture scientist Dr Biswanath Sahu stressed upon the value addition for processing different food items like chips and sweets from the product.

“Farmers could be benefitted by selling different food items prepared from sweet potatoes in the market,” said Sahu.

ORMAS authorities have also assured to set up various food processing units for sweet potatoes in the district.

“We have discussed about the proposal with the district Collector. Scientists have also done a preliminary survey about the product and the proposed food processing units. We are waiting for the report from them. Steps will be undertaken in this direction immediately as soon as we get the report,” said ORMAS CEO Roshan Kartik.

(Edited by Suryakant Jena)