Angul: While there has been extensive damage to crops across Odisha due to rampaging wild animals, cultivation of aromatic crops could be an answer to the perpetual issue.
Foundation for Ecological Security (FES) in association with Central Institute of Medicinal and Aromatic Plats (CIMAP), Lucknow organised a workshop on extraction of aromatic oil in Pampasara, near Satkosia Tiger Reserve Forest yesterday.
More than 100 farmers and agri-entrepreneurs from eight districts like Khurda, Puri, Cuttack, Jagatsinghpur, Nabarangpur, Boudh, Angul and Dhenkanal attended the training-cum-workshop on awareness regarding promotion of aromatic plants for sustainable livelihood alternatives in crop depredation areas. Farmers including Nityananda Biswal from Chendipada and Bibhu Pradhan from Angul, who have been successfully cultivating aromatic crops for the past one year, shared their experiences on the occasion.
The workshop was inaugurated by Amulya Champatiray, PD DRDA (Angul), Dr Ajit Shasany, Principal Scientist (CIMAP), Dr Binita Satpathy, senior scientist and head of Krushi Vigyan Kendra (Angul), Swapna Sarangi, team leader FES Angul and Sarat Behera, District Development Manager, NABARD.
In order to address the issue of crop loss due to wild animals like elephants, wild boars and other herbivores, the government and civil society has been struggling to find solutions. “Farmers in the area are affected by the wild animals and have been discouraged to cultivate their lands as they tend to lose their standing crops. After years of research and consultation with experts we have found that cultivation of aromatic plant crops can result in discouraging the wild life from consuming these plants as it has a distinct smell and they also change their trail route”, said Swapna Sarangi, expert on ecological restoration.
Champatiray said that in many districts including Angul and Dhenkanal, farmers have lost their livelihoods due to crop destruction and plantation of aromatic crops can be an answer to their predicament and result in sustainable livelihoods.
“With an initial investment of Rs 15, 000 per acre, I got a return of Rs 47, 000 in the first year. In the subsequent years, the input costs will be reduced resulting in higher returns,” said Biswal. Scientists from CIMAP demonstrated the oil extraction process from a plant established in Pampsara, one of the three plants in the district.
“Research reveals that cultivation of aromatic crops doesn’t require huge input costs like fertilisers and water, it can be undertaken in areas which are fallow. We encourage farmers to take up this crop as it has economic viability, can be grown for a long term and is a best solution to utilisation of fallow lands” said Dr Shasany. Dr Binita Satpathy lauding the farmers who shared their experiences said that looking at extent of fallow and the viability of adoption of aromatic crops for sustainable livelihoods, KVK Angul has plans to focus on awareness and training of farmers from across the district.
Gautam Mohanty, proprietor of Cuttack-based Green Essence Extraction Pvt Limited, said that there is a huge market for essential oils in India and abroad. “We are producing only one per cent of the requirement and there is an assured market for framers who opt for this crop”, he added.