Odisha: Tribal Farmers Earn Sustainable Income with Fruit Plantation


Sundargarh : Tribal farmers in Sundargarh are growing various types of fruit in order to have a sustainable source of income. The farmers are growing saplings of mango, cashew and lemon in their unused land. The Integrated Tribal Development Agency, ITDA Sundargarh provides necessary support to farmers for the same.

This fruit cultivation programme is operational in a total of 9 blocks under ITDA Sundargarh. Between 2020-21 to 2022-23, more than 1170 beneficiaries have been added to this initiative. Currently, 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.

“I had 5 acres of land which was fallow. I couldn’t grow any crop there since 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 first fruit. Along with Mango, I have also grown watermelon on the land by intercropping”, shares Madhusudan Majhi, a tribal farmer of Sahebdera village in Lephripada block.

Currently, 794 beneficiaries have planted mango saplings on about 1256 acres of land. Similarly, 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 have cultivated lemon grass on 60 acres of land.

“Fruit Cultivation is one of the long-term programmes of ITDA Sundargarh. It has been envisioned 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 aim to spread the programme to other areas in the coming days”, informs Ramkrishna Gond, Project Administrator ITDA Sundargarh.

The Horticulture Department provides fodder and organic fertilizers to the beneficiaries for fruit cultivation free of cost. To ensure protection for the young saplings, 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 creation of man days under MGNREGS. To ensure irrigation facility, one well is dug per every 5 acre of plantation land.

“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”, says Sudarsan Majhi, a beneficiary of Kepse village in Tangarpali block.

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

Local voluntary organizations are entrusted with the responsibility of supporting the beneficiary farmers in the fruit cultivation programme. ITDA Sundargarh officials along with workers of the voluntary organization identify the beneficiaries of the programme while also helping them to prepare the fallow land for fruit cultivation.

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