Bhubaneswar: The State Government is taking several steps to ensure better supply chain management in the state’s agriculture sector with a focus on improving production, reducing food supply chain losses and increasing farmers’ income, said State Agriculture Minister Dr Arun Kumar Sahoo today.
Addressing an ASSOCHAM webinar on Odisha Agri Sector Logistics Challenges & Solutions, Dr Sahoo said, “Whether it is land allocation or adopting innovative practices for increased farm production, we have been actively engaging with the farmers to ensure their needs despite several issues like the occurrence of natural calamities, erratic monsoon, uneven distribution of rainfall.”
Agriculture production in Odisha over the years has increased and as a sector it is growing. The State has witnessed that farmers’ income has grown and in fact it is much-much better than compared to some other states and is even better than the national average, he said.
Dr Sahoo reiterated that the State Government is committed to usher in a sustainable and inclusive growth in the agriculture sector.
“Samrudhi, our new agriculture policy aims to cash in on the untapped potential of the state’s agriculture sector while ensuring an environmentally, economically and technologically inclusive growth. It also encompasses development of warehousing, quality testing infrastructure for better marketing of the crops as logistics plays an important role in agricultural production and supply chain management ultimately enhancing food safety, quality and helping market farmers produce more effectively,” he said.
Highlighting some of the steps being taken, the Minister said, “The existing network of procurement centres are being strengthened to benefit small and marginal farmers. We are imparting knowledge on the use of technology to help our farmers with the help of our officers, experts in terms of emerging agriculture issues and solutions.”
He further said that agri logistics is the backbone of agri-business which enables connectivity between production and consumption centres. “Our department is promoting farmers-producers organisations (FPOs) and agriculture production clusters for holistic development in production, value addition and organic market,” Dr Sahoo said.
The Minister also said that Agriculture Department is actively involved in aspects like implementation of policies aimed at doubling farmers’ income, providing financial incentives for crop diversification and online marketing of various products.
Sharing his perspective, Chief General Manager, NABARD, Odisha, C Udayabhaskar said that while Odisha is a goldmine for horticulture, dairy, fisheries, oilseeds and pulses, there is an urgent need to develop backward linkages, motivate the farmers, provide them with technical knowhow and capacity building.
Highlighting various production level issues that are needed to be resolved to win away farmers from paddy and focus on other potential crops like banana, oilseeds, coconut, mango and others, he said, “Unless these production level issues are taken up, it will be very difficult to create a logical, viable agri logistics system. So that said, we need to build up the agri infrastructure.”
“For Odisha to become self-sufficient to produce in a particular scale, the state also needs to solve issues like lack of cold storage system which is a key part of agri logistics,” the NABARD CGM added.
He also said that there is a need to welcome the startups and have an incubation center and suggested redeveloping and repairing the Center of Excellence in Khordha.
“It is not in a proper shape after the cyclone and requires redevelopment and repairs. We can develop it as a very good back house for exports and we also need to have commercial, cargo flights that can take this agri produce, huge opportunities are waiting for Odisha,” he added.
Other speakers who addressed the ASSOCHAM webinar included – ASSOCHAM Chairman Dhaval Raval,–Agriculture Sub Council, Western Region; A Kakra, Vice Chancellor of OUAT Dr PK Agarwal and APICOL Managing Director Dr Pravat Kumar Roul,