Gumma: Orange cultivation in Ajaygarh and Serang panchayats under this hill-locked and forested block in Gajapati district is on the wane with farmers turning away from the cultivation and taking to shifting and cashew cultivation, a report said. Environmentalists, however, rued the atmospheric pollution caused by the shifting cultivation in the area, and loss of nutrients in the soil due to massive cashew farming. They said that orange cultivation in Ajaygarh and Serang panchayats are on the decline despite conducive atmosphere for the produces.
In past, orange farmers used to reap a bumper harvest but now the farmers are turning away from the cultivation after being drawn towards shifting and cashew cultivation. Observers said that the government should step in and sensitise the farmers about the benefits and earnings from orange cultivation. They should be provided with enough orange saplings which will help in balancing the environment. Farmers of these two panchayats should be apprised that they should not depend on cashew and shifting cultivation which give less harvest and income, said the locals, adding they should rather take up orange cultivation which will fetch them good earnings. This will also help in conservation of traditional orange cultivation, they added.
Residents Suresh Bada Dalai, Maliya Paika, Debendra Pradhan, Rupa Sabar, Nohar Gamango, Elia Sabar and Kartik Gamango said the cultivation of a much sought after fruit like orange, if produced in the area, would augment the earnings of the local farmers while people in the state can get the fruit at a cheaper price. Intellectuals of the locality said orange cultivation will benefit farmers and local residents if the state government provides incentives for the same. When contacted, block horticulture officer Dillip Dingal said plans are afoot for cultivation of orange on 70 hectare of land in Adhei, Balmunda, Gira, Tibisingh and Luhara villages under the two panchayats during 2020- 24 crop years.