‘23% shortfall in kendu leaf production in Odisha likely’

Bhubaneswar: A shortfall of about 23 per cent in kendu leaf production is likely in Odisha during 2016-17 due to hailstorm, officials said.

While around 3.75 lakh quintal of kendu leaf was produced during 2015-16 and generated a total sale value of Rs 542 crore, the production this year (2016-17) had been estimated at 3.39 lakh quintals on account of the 23 per cent shortfall, a forest and environment department official said.

However, in order to tackle the situation, the department was asked by Chief Secretary A P Padhi to adopt more systematic post harvest management, an official release said.

So far, around 8,500 quintals of the leaf have been sold through auction generating a total sale value of Rs 225 crore, said Principal Chief Conservator of Forests Amiya Kumar Mohapatra.

The department has also created kendu leaf development fund and as of now around Rs 107 cr has been augmented in this fund from the trade surplus, Mohapatra said.

The Kendu Leaf Coordination Meeting held under the chairmanship of Padhi considered the infrastructural requirement for up-scaling kendu leaf operations in the state.

The committee approved projects worth Rs 54.90 crore.

The major projects included construction of 20 new godown buildings, boundary wall at 60 sites and construction of 600 permanent “phadis” (building to store kendu leaves) and modernisations of the kendu leaf offices.

It was also decided in the meeting that the people will be allowed to use these “phadis” as multipurpose community centres during the non-operational period.

Considering the trade prospects of 2016, Padhi directed the department to keep an eye over the price fluctuations in the market while selling the procured kendu leaves.

The meeting discussed on the loss caused to the crop because of hailstorm. “In spite of the fall in production because of natural calamity, kendu leaf trade this year is expected to fetch comparatively more trade surplus over the last year”, said Mohapatra.

This has been possible, he said, due to the improvement in standards of post harvest practices like processing, segregation, binding and storage managements over the years.