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Fruit Plantation is Helping Odisha Tribal Farmers Earn a Sustainable Income

Tribal farmers in Odisha are pursuing fruit plantations and are relishing sustainable income benefits.

Shivangi Rai
Tribal farmers are growing diverse varieties of fruit in order to have a sustainable source of income.
Tribal farmers are growing diverse varieties of fruit in order to have a sustainable source of income.

In Sundargarh, Odisha, tribal farmers are growing diverse varieties of fruit in order to have a sustainable source of income. The farmers are growing saplings of mango, lemon, and cashew on their unused land. The Integrated Tribal Development Agency, ITDA Sundargarh is providing all the necessary support to the farmers for the same.

Under ITDA Sundargarh, this fruit cultivation programme is operational in a total of 9 blocks. More than 1170 beneficiaries have been added to this initiative between 2020-21 to 2022-23. Presently, over 1,900 acres of land is under mango, cashew and lemon farming. During FY 2022-23, Lemon grass cultivation is also being promoted as part of the plantation programme.

Madhusudan Majhi, a tribal farmer of Sahebdera village in Lephripada block shares, “I had 5 acres of land which were fallow. I couldn’t grow any crop there as it was rocky. Officials from ITDA Sundargarh came and advised me to plant Mango saplings on the fallow land. I did as per their advice and this year, the trees bore their first fruit. Along with Mango, I have also grown watermelon on the land by intercropping.”

Presently, 794 beneficiaries have planted mango saplings on about 1256 acres of land. Likewise, more than 250 beneficiaries have cultivated cashew on 450 acres of land, while 90 tribal farmers have cultivated lemon on 140 acres of land. For the first time, 40 beneficiaries cultivated lemon grass on 60 acres of land.

Ramkrishna Gond, Project Administrator ITDA Sundargarh informs, “Fruit Cultivation is one of the long-term programmes of ITDA Sundargarh. It has been proposed to financially empower tribal farmers in the area. By adding Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (MGNREGS) to the programme, the local villagers are also able to earn a living. We are aiming to spread the programme to other areas in the coming days.”

The Horticulture Department offers fodder and organic fertilizers to the beneficiaries for fruit cultivation free of cost. To ensure the young saplings’ protection, wire fencing is also provided. From the time the sapling is planted for up to three years, the crop is maintained and kept free of weeds and shrubs. Wage Assistance is provided to the workers for the same by the creation of man days under MGNREGS. To ensure irrigation facility, one well is dug per every 5 acre of plantation land.

Sudarsan Majhi, a beneficiary of Kepse village in Tangarpali block says, “I have grown cashews on my land. Cashew saplings and natural fertilizers were provided to me free of cost. The cashew trees have started growing bigger while the fruit is expected to sprout by next year. I’m hoping to sell it and earn a decent amount. I thank ITDA Sundargarh for their all-round support.”

It takes 2 to 3 years for the plantation saplings to bear fruit. To provide a livelihood for farmers in the interim period, vegetable cultivation is promoted as part of Mission Jeevika. Under this, farmers grow potato, brinjal, tomato, watermelon, & chilli by intercropping them with mango, cashew and lemon plants. The farmers then sell the vegetables in the local market and earn a livelihood.

Supporting the recipient farmers in the fruit production scheme is the duty of local non profit organisations. Officials from ITDA Sundargarh and volunteers from the organisation assist in identifying the programme's recipients and assist them in converting barren land into fruit orchards.

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