Bantala: A woman farmer, a widow of Poktunga village under Bantala police limits in Angul district, had high hopes of making a handsome profit from her banana plantation. However, the COVID-19 pandemic has shattered her hopes. Now Ashalata Pradhan is hoping for some assistance from the Odisha government. She said if she doesn’t get any financial assistance it will be impossible for her to continue farming.
Ashalata , lost her husband, Amar, two-and-a-half years ago. She had grown banana and some vegetables on five acres land. Just at the time of harvest, COVID-19-induced restrictions were imposed, spelling doom for her. More than one thousand banana bunches perished and she suffered losses of more than Rs 1,00,000.
According to Ashalata, her husband used to grow banana and sell it in the market to run the family. After his demise, the responsibility of running the family fell on Ashalata’s shoulders. She could not think out a way as to how she could educate her three children – one son and two daughters.
Eventually Ashalata decided to take up banana cultivation like her husband. She started growing crops on five acres of land at Jammutaila near Bada School. Two acres of land belonged to the family and she hired the remaining three acres from a neighbour. She had grown banana on three acres and vegetables like egg plant, pointed gourd and on the rest two acres. Last year, from the banana plantations she had earned a profit of Rs 70,000.
Eyeing better profits this year, she invested Rs2,00,000 in her agricultural land. She also engaged eight to 10 labourers on a daily wage basis to grow bananas. She had expected to sell over 1,000 banana bunches with the price of each varying between Rs 250 to Rs 300.
Due to the lockdown restrictions, traders could not visit her plantation and the fruits were left to rot on trees.
“I have suffered huge losses. I am not in a position to stand on my own again. I need government assistance,” stated Ashalata.
When contacted, Angul horticulture department, deputy director Padmolochan Das said he would send his colleagues to assess her loss and then only steps can be taken to help out Ashalata. “We can provide her with seeds, weeder and sprayer machines at 50 per cent less than the original price. We can also write a letter to the government mentioning about her loss due to COVID-19 restrictions requesting compensation to her,” added Das.