Odisha Sun Times Bureau
Bhubaneswar, Mar 3:
Rice production in Odisha can reach 82 lakh MT mark by 2017-18 from the current level of about 70 lakh MT through increased usage of high yielding varieties/hybrids of rice, improving soil drainage, spreading rice-fish culture and taking other such measures, apex industry body ASSOCHAM said today.
“Rainwater harvesting and storage, expansion of area under high-value cash crops and vegetables, improvement in seed supply to increase the seed replacement rate (SRR), soil treatment to improve the productivity of crops in acidic soils in the region, use of high yielding varieties for water logged and upland areas, discouraging rice cultivation in marginal lands and diversifying in favour of oilseeds and pulses, utilisation of rice fallows are certain significant steps required to increase cropping intensity and crop productivity in Odisha,” according to a study titled, ‘Towards Second Green Revolution in Eastern India: A Road Map,’ conducted by The Associated Chambers of Commerce and Industry of India (ASSOCHAM).
“Rice production in eastern region of India can reach about 670 lakh MT by 2017-18 from the current level of over 580 lakh MT as the region holds tremendous potential to emerge as ‘Rice Bowl of India,’ as every quintal increase in yield would push rice production by over two million tonnes,” added the ASSOCHAM study.
“Eastern India contributes almost 55 per cent area under rice i.e. over 23 million hectares, besides, this part of the country is also blessed with abundant natural resources including land, water and bio-diversity, thus an integrated holistic approach coupled with a well-planned strategy is imperative to reaslise targeted average agricultural growth rate of about four per cent in the eastern region,” it added.
West Bengal spearheads the eastern India in paddy production to the tune of about 150 lakh MT followed by eastern UP (140 lakh MT), Odisha (70 lakh MT), Bihar (68 lakh MT), Chhattisgarh (63 lakh MT), Assam (47 lakh MT) and Jharkhand (34 lakh MT).
If India is able to bridge the gap between potential yield and actual yield in rice, the eastern region can achieve a compounded annual growth rate (CAGR) of about 10 per cent in rice production, highlighted the ASSOCHAM study.
“Rice and fish production needs to be up-scaled in eastern region as it plays a significant role in socio-economic structure of farmers in the region, beside increased production of rice and fisheries resources will also lead to growth in marketing infrastructure and spur job creation in post-harvest, marketing and other related spheres,” said Mr D.S. Rawat, national secretary general of ASSOCHAM while releasing the study.
“Greater dependence on unpredictable monsoon, recurring drought and floods, low intensity during Kharif season, poor growth in spread of high yielding varieties, injudicious use of fertilizers and other agri inputs, low seed replacement rate coupled with weak extension machinery and poor credit facilities are major challenges faced by the region as it grapples with sluggish productivity and production growth rate,” said Mr Rawat.
In its study, ASSOCHAM has suggested for using hybrids, inter-cropping, increased mechanization, use of micro nutrients, extension support and demonstration centres that are key to raise productivity.
“Apart from rice (paddy) suitable evaluation of promoting other crops like maize, pulses and oilseeds should be undertaken for optimum utilization of land and local needs in the region,” said Mr Rawat. “There is also urgent need for efficient management of water resources as Eastern India is prone to rampant drought and floods.”
ASSOCHAM has recommended that focused research in evolving hybrid seeds in developing transgenic rice should be undertaken to address problem of nutrients, pests, diseases, drought and floods.
Besides, objective evaluation of bio-products together with extension of necessary subsidy is imperative to make them cost-effective and favorable for farmers as they are environment friendly and help in reducing toxicity and carcinogens.
Market linkages is yet another important factor highlighted in the ASSOCHAM study as increased production should be supported by remunerative price to the farmers, accompanied by suitable mechanism for procurement in identified eastern states.
Infrastructure is a pre-requisite to achieve the second green revolution in India, as such ASSOCHAM has suggested for conservation and conversion of water resources in the rural sector, timely and efficient flood control systems, production of low-cost bio-pesticides and farm equipment and centres for agro-machinery services and agri-inputs.
ASSOCHAM has also suggested for creating a scientific storage, grading and cleaning centre as over 20 per cent of agricultural goods are wasted at various points when farm products move from farm till consumers’ door-step.
There is also a need to develop farmer friendly value addition process for better price realization, stabilization and consistency in quality.
A cluster development approach is required to create modern marketing infrastructure for better realization for farmers with value addition and reduced agri wastage.