Govt. working to bolster agri sector, improve agri-logistics to boost exports & enhance farmers’ income: Dr A.K. Sahoo, Odisha Agri Minister

New Delhi: Government of Odisha 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, Minister of Agriculture & Farmers’ Empowerment, Fisheries & Animal Resources Development, Dr Arun Kumar Sahoo said at an ASSOCHAM webinar today.


“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,” said Dr Sahoo while addressing an ASSOCHAM Webinar on Odisha Agri Sector Logistics Challenges & Solutions.


The Minister added, “Agriculture production in Odisha over the years has increased and as a sector it is growing. We have 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.”


Dr Sahoo reiterated that his government is committed to usher in a sustainable and inclusive growth in the agriculture sector. “Samrudhi, our new agriculture policy aims to cash 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 help market farmers produce more effectively.”


Highlighting some of the steps being taken, he said, “The existing network of procurement centres are being strengthened to benefit small and marginal farmers. We are imparting knowledge on 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.”


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, Mr C. Udayabhaskar, Chief General Manager/OIC, NABARD, Odisha 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.”


He added, “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.”


He also said that there is a need to welcome the startups and have an incubation center and suggested to redevelop and repair 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.”


Other speakers who addressed the ASSOCHAM webinar included – Mr Dhaval Raval, Chairman, ASSOCHAM–Agriculture Sub Council, Western Region; Mr A. Kakra, Agri Sector Head, PwC; Dr P.K. Agarwal, Vice Chancellor, Odisha University of Agriculture & Technology (OUAT) and Prof. (Dr) Pravat Kumar Roul, Managing Director, APICOL.

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