Use horticulture crops to overcome drought loss: CM Patnaik

Bhubaneswar: With around 5.23 lakh hectare of cultivable land sustaining crop loss in 21 districts of Odisha, Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik today suggested farmers to take up “remunerative” horticultural crops to overcome the drought situation.

“I hope the farmers will avail the opportunities of increased irrigation potential and have a remunerative crop during Rabi season. Horticultural crops are very much remunerative and provide livelihood support along with nutritional security,” Patnaik said while addressing a workshop here.

Stating that the state government has recently announced the waiver of water cess for this year in drought-affected districts, Patnaik said that the recovery of all crop loans extended by cooperative societies in the affected 139 blocks is deferred with immediate effect.

Re phasing of the recovery schedule of such crop loans will be made soon, he said, adding that commercial banks have been requested to take similar steps in respect of crop loans for farmers of the affected areas.

Besides, the state government has also decided to start disbursement of payment of agriculture input subsidy by November 10 in drought hit areas, he said.

As a measure to tackle drought situation, the state government has planned to increase the area under horticulture crops by 50 per cent in next five years. Both area expansion and productivity improvement have to go together to achieve the goal of bringing more returns to the farmers of Odisha, he said.

The chief minister said the state government has taken up a mission of increasing potato production and storage. Cold stores and other post harvest management infrastructures are being promoted in the state with additional assistance from the state budget, Patnaik said.

“Sustainable development of horticultural sector will be promoted so as to attain self sufficiency in horticulture production for domestic consumption as well as export,” Patnaik said.

Referring to opposition criticism, Patnaik said the state government has been working with commitment for the development of agriculture and welfare of farmers.