“Industrialization, Urbanization and climate change have led to loss of farmland across the world. Odisha has been affected with different natural calamities in the last few years. Due to the stress in the sector, farmers are migrating from agriculture to other activities”, opined Dr. M.Muthukumar, Director Agriculture and Food Production, Govt. of Odisha. He also said that Odisha has achieved doubling of farm income but as we see, farm income has lessened while non farm income has increased. Dr. Muthukumar was speaking in capacity as the Chief Guest of the seminar on ‘Sustainable Solutions for Agriculture in India with Special Focus on Odisha’, held under Krushi Odisha.
Dr. Muthukumar also suggested that there is a need to attract young population towards agriculture as well as a need to go for sustainable agriculture in the times to come. “Our objective is to lead farmers to Profitability with focus on post harvesting solutions like value smart agriculture, market sustainable agriculture, and diversification of crops.” We can try highland paddy with smart agriculture solutions. We need more smart solutions from agriculture universities, research centers, farming community to enable sustainable smart agriculture solutions”, he added.
Other panelists on the seminar included Dr. Himanshu Pathak, Director, National Rice Research Institute (NRRI), Dr. Arvind Kumar, Director, IRRI, International Rice Research Institute, South Asia Regional Centre (ISARC), Mr. Ramesh Swain, Agriculture Expert, CYSD, Mr. Kirti Bhusan Pani, State Coordinator, PRADAN, Mr. Prasant Mohanty, Executive Director, NIRMAN.
Dr. Himanshu Pathak, moderated the session where he welcomed everyone to the event including scientists, students, farmers. “In India you know paddy production is important. We have been cultivating paddy for the last 7000 years. It has become a part of not only our food but also our culture. It’s not just a business, it’s our heritage. No social or community program is complete without rice and it forms a big part of society not only in Odisha or India but also Asia.
“We are exporting rice to the tune of 10 Million tonnes. In India in case of rice, income is low, productivity is low. We need an income revolution after green revolution to help increase income of farmers. Our lifestyle has changed. So should our farmers as well as our farming techniques”, Dr. Pathak added.
Dr. Arvind Kumar said “I come from a farmers family. I remember when i was young, we used to grow 15-16 crops while we grow 4 crops per year. So the problem lies somewhere here.” Dr. Kumar talked about transforming food deficit Asia to food secure Asia. “I don’t think There is a trade-off between sustainable agriculture and farmer’s profitability”, he added further.
Mr. Ramesh Swain opined that farmers are constantly marred by natural calamities, pest infestation issues leading to depletion in the farmer’s income. He called for a revamp in the farming system in Odisha with a focus on diversity based farming. He outlined the issues that resulted in low productivity with small land holding, marginal soil, undulated topography, varied agro climatic conditions, lack of irrigation, low income and low seed replacement rate being noteworthy among others.
Mr. Kirti Bhusan Pani, felt that there is a growing need to make agriculture attractive and remunerative. “Various crops can be grown in Odisha given 10 agro climatic zones with varied humidity and soil condition but in Odisha we have yet not been able to capitalize on it.
Technology can be driver of efficiency.” said Mr. Pani.
“Apart from Agriculture, livestock is also important for improving income. Irrigation and asset creation is primary to increase farmer’s income. Farmers can use poor grade vegetables like carrot, turmeric, onion and by solar drying and powdering it, they can sell the same ensure that they get some money even from leftover produce,” added Mr. Pani.
It was largely discussed at the seminar that the state government has released enough booklets informing about crop procurement and welfare schemes that will benefit the farmers. Since almost 70 percent of people in the state are affected by diabetes and rice aggravates that condition, there is a need to find suitable alternative for such consumers. IRRI is working in this regard by developing a rice variety which has low GI (Glycemic Index) so that diabetics could consume it. It was also debated that there is a need to eliminate middlemen, especially in the agriculture sector.
‘Krushi Odisha’, the annual flagship five day exhibition cum agri fest, organized by Dept. of Agriculture and Farmers’ Empowerment, Govt. of Odisha in collaboration with FICCI is being held from 20-24 January 2020 at Janata Maidan, Bhubaneswar. The mega programme which envisages leading farmers to profitability, involves various aspects like farm income, implements, modern technology in farming, financial assistance to farmers and capacity building.