Baripada: The lemongrass farming projects in several parts of Mayurbhanj district taken up under Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (MGNREGS) have gone haywire.
According to farmers, several factors are responsible for the failure of the projects. They include wrong selection of farmland and irregularities in beneficiary selection.
As per the information available, the project was taken up in 25 hectares of 22 beneficiaries including Pradeep Kumar Mohanta of Budhhakhamari village under Baripada block spending Rs 70,85,613.
Financial year 2019-20 was set for the project to take off. While District Rural Development Agency (DRDA) was in charge of managing the project, deputy director horticulture was in charge of execution of the project.
Thanks to the lackadaisical attitude of the concerned departments, the project was commissioned in October last year.
Nine months have passed and the plants have not reached the height as they would have had by this time. Most of the plants have already died allegedly due to lack of proper care.
At a time when the plants are not being taken care of, the beneficiaries are reportedly receiving Rs 188 per month to take care of the plants. It has also been alleged that some employees of the said departments are hand in glove with these beneficiaries and pocketing a lion share of the money.
The information plaque mentions that the lemon grass is being planted on 25 hectares. But the real picture tells something different. The grass is seen on only some hectares.
As per the rule, the grass is to be planted in open fields. But here they are planted under some huge trees. So the growth of the grass has not been satisfactory, alleged some farmers.
Notably, lemongrass farming has been envisaged only to improve the social and financial condition of the farmers under Rashtriya Krishu Vikas Yojana. The main objective of the scheme is to discourage farmers from going out of the state in search of work. But the outcome is far from the cry.
When contacted, Baripada deputy director horticulture, Sisir Acharya said that the beneficiaries could not come to the farmlands and take care of the grass due to COVID-19 lockdown restrictions. These plants will once again be planted in the coming days and will be taken care of properly.