Kalahandi farmers reaping it rich with Banana cultivation in Orissa

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Boria (Kalahandi) Orissa, Feb.11 : Farmers in Orissa's Kalahandi District, where famine used to be a recurring phenomenon, are reaping it rich today by taking up banana cultivation on a massive scale.

The initiatives to persuade farmers to take to banana growing, was taken by State's horticulture department. Agronomists and other horticulture experts have motivated the local farmers to try out these different crops in place of regular paddy crops.

Until three years ago, Kalahandi was described as a drought prone region and farmers' condition was pitiable. Today, there is greenery due to banana plantation. Farmers here have taken up banana (also known as plantains) cultivation on a massive scale.

Around 12,000 acres of agricultural land is under extensive banana cultivation in Kalahandi alone.

A farmer, on an average, has to spend about rupees 30,000 (758 dollars) for banana cultivation in one acre area of land for a year and can earn around rupees 70,000 (1,770 dollars) or more as net profit.

"Banana farming is a profit making business for us. My fellow farmers informed me about this. In 2005, I started investing in this. I invested rupees 40,000 (1,010 dollars) on one acre of land and earned profits up to a lakh rupees (2,527 dollars) in a year," said Rameshwar Saha, one of the farmers in Boria Village.

"Here around 40 acres of banana cultivation is undertaken. A farmer spends rupees 30,000 (758 dollars) on one acre and earns around rupees 70,000 (1,770 dollars) on it. This profited them a lot and had caused a rise in their living standard," said Padma Naik, another cultivator of bananas.

But farmers blame the government for inadequate support, particularly for frequent cuts in electric supply and not giving tax exemption on water.

Under the National Farming Mission around 210 hectares have been given to farmers for banana farming. Further, the government has granted a subsidy of rupees 15,000 (380 dollars) to farmers.

"We have given 210 hectares of land for farmers. We have also given them rupees 15,000 (380 dollars) subsidy and they reimburse it after three years for which they give 50 per cent in the first year and the rest in two years," said Dharanidhar Patra, the Deputy Director with the Horticulture Department in Kalahandi.

The farmers are also covered by insurance.

India produces 16.91 million tonnes of bananas annually from 490.7 thousand hectares, contributing almost 37 per cent of the total fruit production in the country,

Bananas of numerous varieties, all easy to digest, have a regular demand for their rich natural nutrient qualities. By Sarada LahangirANI)

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