Jajpur:The state government giving more importance to industrialisation than agriculture has hit the vegetable farmers hard in Jajpur district.
This has impacted the livelihood of farmers so much that they are forced to go for distress sale like in the case of cauliflower farmers. A cauliflower weighing a little over 3 kg is being sold for Rs 3 to traders due to lack of government support, marketing facilities and a cold storage in the district.
The only cold storage in neighbouring Cuttack district is far away. While the state government has provided land and necessary infrastructure at Kalinganagar and Jaraka for setting up industries, it has done little for the development of agriculture in the district, allege locals.
This year, as the climate is favourable, many farmers took up cauliflower cultivation. However, they were crestfallen after they were forced to go for distress sale. Things have come to such a pass that the farmers have even failed to get back the principal amount they had invested in their crops.
Jajpur predominantly being an agriculture district, vegetables are cultivated in over 15,000 hectare in the delta regions of Kharasrota and Brahmani rivers.
Vegetables grown here are sold in Keonjhar, Bhadrak, Kendrapara, Cuttack and Bhubaneswar and even exported to other countries through Paradip Port.
This year, the farmers have been the worst sufferers due to lack of adequate marketing facilities and a cold storage to increase the shelf life of their produce. As a result, they were forced to go for distress sale. They are now pondering over as to how to repay the loans they had taken to raise their crops.
The farmers who once took pride in vegetable cultivation are now a worried lot.
This has happened as construction of a cold storage at Panikoili is moving at a snail’s pace and yet to get completed. Farmers living on the Kharasrota embankment took up vegetable cultivation when the Jokadia bridge became operational a decade ago. They could travel on the bridge and sell their produce in the nearby market of Jajpur Road and earned good money.
Over 500 farmers of Bhagirathpur, Adampur, Korkera, Nathuabar, Bolangi, Baunshanta, Tikarpada, Sarangpur, Barampur, Kandasara, Manpur, Barkolipatna, Bhagabanpur, Mukudeipur, Nagua and other villages are dependent on Jajpur Road market.
On the other hand, over 1000 farmers of Aratia, Kusunpur, Nuahata, Jabra, Krushnapada, Mathasahi, Gopinathpur, Babalpur, Singhapur, Betanda and adjoining villages are dependent on nearby Barabati market.
Farmers Udayanath Mallick, Padan Sahu, Bana Mallick of Barakolipatna village said they had cultivated cauliflower in over 45 decimal of land. However, they are forced to sell a cauliflower at Rs 3 a piece weighing a little over 3 kg due to lack of cold storage in the district. They are now worried over repayment of loans, not to speak of profits, the farmers added.