· As per the State
Government’s Economic Survey (2011-12) in 2000/2001 the total cultivable
land was 58 lakh 29 thousand hectares. By 2010-11 the total cultivable
land had reduced 7 % and had become 54 lakh 7 thousand hectares.
· The yield per hectare in
Punjab is 41.48 quintal. In Odisha, the yield per hectare is less than
one-third of Punjab at 13.93 quintal and below the national average of.
· Punjab has 97.70 % of land
irrigated. In Odisha, the official estimate is 36.70 %. But, during the
padyatra farmers showed us the pathetic condition of canals and the
large number of dysfunctional tube-wells.
inputs like HYV seeds, fertilizer and pesticides Odisha is much below
the national average and remains almost at the bottom. Despite receiving
huge subsidies from the Central Government the sell and distribution of
farm inputs remain uncertain and there are frequent reports of
squandering of funds and mismanagement.
· With climate change the
frequency of vagaries of nature like delayed monsoon, draught
conditions, non-seasonal rain and flooding have been increasing.
Elephant menace has become an equally big problem. Farmers are reporting
crop loss from 50 to 100% almost every year. They are able to get a
small amount of money as compensation for crop loss after a lot of
· Farmers are not getting
remunerative price for their produce because of poor marketing linkage
and procurement infrastructure as the state Government continues to deny
· Farmers are unwilling to
avail any credit because of the uncertainties around agriculture. A
civil society group, led by a former Judge of the Odisha High Court, has
now documented 27 cases of farmer’s suicides. The State Government
continues to deny all cases of farmer’s suicide.
· The State Government has
done nothing to support agro-based and food-processing industry that
could have provided better market linkage for farm produce.
Naveen Pattnaik has
signed many MoUs with big business. The farmers neither speak in
English, the only language that the Chief Minister understands, nor can
they provide donations for any favours to the politico-bureaucratic
cabal ruling over the state. I have committed to the people that we will
first sign an MoU with the farmers of Odisha. We have to usher in a
green revolution and I am sure that the Central Government that has
provided about 30 thousand Crore in some 18 different schemes to the
state Government during the last 12 years will open its coffers if we
can project the scope of a green revolution that can liberate farmers,
70 % of the state’s 4.19 Crore population, from a desperate existence
close to the statistical poverty-line. The four agro-climatic zone will
require different focus. But, the success of cultivation of corn in
Umarkote, Cotton in Gunpur, and Sugar Cane in some pockets have shown
the huge potential of agricultural growth. We have taken on board the
following demands on the basis of discussions with farmers:
· Ensure remunerative price
for farm produce by strengthening the procurement infrastructure and
· Provide bonus of Rs 300 on
top of the minimum support price of 1257 fixed by the Central
· Comprehensive insurance
coverage and payment of compensation for crop damage within seven days
at remunerative values. The procedure should be simplified to prevent
· Payment of 20 lakhs as ex-gratia
and provision of a job under the state Government in case of
farmer-suicide due to distress because of either crop-loss or
· Loan-waiver and loan
rescheduling in case of crop loss.
· Make sure that Soil-test
Centres are established at accessible distance and results are given
free of cost within seven days of submission of soil samples. The test
results should be handed over with specific advice regarding the choice
· Establish more cold-storage
and encourage Government and private sector investment in providing
market linkage and cold chains.
· Revive the canals and the
tube-wells and make sure that the target date for irrigating 35 % of the
land in every block is met without any further delay.
· Take up large irrigation
projects like lower Suktel, Anga and lower Indra. Increase the
percentage of irrigated land to 75 % in ten years.
· Reserve water in the
existing reservoir for use by farmers. Industries may set up reservoir
at their own cost for getting water.
· Set up an Agricultural
University in Western Odisha and strengthen the Agriculture department
to guide farmers to much higher levels of productivity through the use
of the best farm inputs and the best choice of crops.
· Improve animal husbandry
and allied activities.
Naveen Pattnaik wants to
recover 70,000 Crore from Mining houses once the favours that he has
shown during the last decade has become public. But, the total revenue
loss is now being estimated to the tune of 3 lakh Crore. So much could
have been done for the farmers with all these lost/ looted money. The
neglect of the agriculture sector is a critical issue related to
poverty-alleviation and the overall economic growth of the country.
India’s urban elite should show due compassion for farmers while forming
views on the performance of Naveen Pattnaik during the last 12
years. We cannot become a rich state or nation while Odisha’s farmers
[Author is a former
minister of Odisha and, at present, is the Pradesh
Congress Committee President, Odisha. Views expressed in the piece are