Problems aplenty for turmeric growers

Phulbani: Once famous for quality turmeric production, the tribal-dominated Kandhamal district is slowly losing its tag, owing to several problems of the farmers.

Even as Kandhamal turmeric is still on high demand in market not only in the state but also internationally, the decreasing number of farmers ever year has reduced its production.

A whole lot of reasons including- lack of support, decrease in production, non-availability of compensation during loss, lack of labour, increase in migration, irregularities by traders and unseasonal natural disasters have forced the farmers to lose their interest in turmeric cultivation.

Once term a cash-making crop, turmeric has brought huge losses to farmers in recent times. Nowadays, people prefer to work as migrant labourers instead of toiling day and hard in turmeric fields throughout the year. Moreover, farmers prefer to cultivate seasonal vegetables and make quick money rather than toiling on turmeric.

On the other hand, remaining handful of farmers are falling victim to middlepersons and traders. If this continues, the cultivation will come to an end in the district, farmers complained, demanding the administration to take steps to revive the world famous turmeric cultivation.

Adding to their woes, the farmers are also provided with low quality seeds that affect the cultivation.

Turmeric cultivation is considered the traditional job for tribals in Kandhamal since ages. However, lack of government support is diminishing the cultivation at a fast pace.

According to reports, turmeric was sold for Rs 150/kg back in 2008-09. Slowly, the market price began to decline from year to year. Now, it has come down to Rs 70/kg the current year, the farmers rued.

Many farmers have been forced to sell for Rs 40-50. Lack of awareness, support from the agriculture department is another key factor in the slow decline of the crop.

Around 13,756 hectare land was cultivated in 2014-15 that produced 1.31 lakh metric tonne of turmeric. Similarly, 13,300 hectare land was cultivated in 2015-16 that produced 1.19 lakh metric tonne of turmeric. In 2016-17, 12,710 hectare land was cultivated that produced 1.18 lakh metric tonne of turmeric. Daringbadi alone cultivated turmeric in 7,000 hectare land while in Raikia 3,000 hectare land was cultivated. However, there has been no major help to the farmers all this years.

The government had formed KASAM (Kandhamal Apex Spices Association for Marketing) for the sale of turmeric that constituted of 61 societies with 12,000 registered farmers. However, many more farmers are yet to be included with KASAM.

When contacted, KASAM secretary Sanjit Kumar Patnaik said steps were being taken to help the farmers to get the accurate price for their crop the current year.

Similarly, district deputy director of agriculture Manoj Kumar Das said the farmers would be allowed to sale their crop through online the current year adding that 30 primary collection centres were opened to help the farmers to selling their crops instead of falling in the hands of traders.   PNN

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