Bhubaneswar: Extending a helping hand to the distressed farmers during the ongoing COVID-19 lockdown situation, Reliance Foundation has conducted several digital conferencing sessions for farmers, livestock owners, inland fish farmers across the state. Conducted in collaboration with various government authorities, these special sessions are helping in addressing issues like purchasing inputs, selling their produce, transportation, expert consultation, safety measures, government schemes and weather forecasting etc.
Many of them have been unable to take necessary plant protection measures and not getting critical inputs from market due to lock down. Also, due to closure or restricted operations of retail shops and local markets they were not able to sale their produce putting them in distress, particularly the small and marginal farmers
Keeping this in view, Reliance Foundation started a new innovative participatory approach to address the farmers’ problem of various districts of Odisha by organizing over 36 multi-location audio conference programmes involving farmers, officials, agri scientists and agri marketing experts etc.
Around 1050 farmers, inland fish farmers, livestock owners across 20 districts of Odisha connected with officials and scientists from Line departments, Krishi Vigyan Kendra (KVK), District Social Security Office. They clarified various queries of the farmers related to precautionary measures against COVID 19 during farming work, livestock management, inland fish farming, availability of critical inputs, marketing and transportation of agricultural produce, procedures to get vehicle pass for Agri harvest transportation and marketing, Government Schemes for farmers and vulnerable people etc.
Apart from such interactive sessions and programmes, Reliance Foundation also addressed these issues through voice SMS, Jio Chat channel and various WhatsApp support groups. As many farmers were still unaware about critical information issued by Government and farming activities being exempted during lockdown, Reliance foundation also reached out to more than 2 lakh farmers, 3200 inland fish farmers and 30000 livestock owners with validated information from line departments and Odisha University of Agriculture and Technology.
Reliance foundation provided them important information like safety & precautionary measures to prevent COVID19 during farming practices, subsidy scheme on farm mechanisation, availability of inputs, permits for selling farm produces, loan facility through Kisan Credit Card, plant protection and operations of all agriculture and allied departments. It also addressed their queries with expert advisories through Reliance Foundation’s toll-free helpline number 1800-419-8800, moreover connecting them with scientists of OUAT & officials of line departments through multi location audio conferences.
The efforts and initiatives of Reliance Foundation in reaching out and helping farmers in the state has also been recognised and highly appreciated by the Government authorities. Speaking about one multi-location audio conference organised by Reliance Foundation for famers, Dy. Director of Horticulture in Angul Padma Lochan Das said such digital programmes have been very useful and important for discussion and redressal of farmers’ issues in Angul district as it has now become difficult to physically meet more farmers in the current COVID19 situation. This is helping us getting practical knowledge of the ground situation directly from farmers themselves while ensuring quick remedied and redressal of their issues. Besides, it helps to disseminate a specific technology to different farmers from different locations at the same time & also helps us to assess field situation and the real time major issues, he added.
Echoing similar sentiments District Fisheries Officer of Deogarh Narottam Nayak said the multi-location audio conference programme facilitated by Reliance Foundation has been very useful to fish farmers, entrepreneurs, stakeholders as well as women SHG members of the district. This has in a way helped in ensuring the essential interaction and communication between technical officers and fish farmers on fish harvesting, marketing and transportation of fishes from farm site or tank site to local markets etc., he added.
This also helped the farmers to continue their fishery activities in these hard days and has been very useful to advise the entrepreneurs, suppliers, stakeholders to continue their activities in feed supply, medicines, vitamins, supply to farmers getting vehicle pass from the fishery department.
Dillip Kumar Biswal, a farmer from Brahamanipali village in Reamal block of Deogarh district said he was worried as he could not go to sell his fishes in the market and even got beaten once for venturing out in lockdown. However, after participating in the audio conference facilitated by Reliance Foundation, he came to know that he could obtain vehicle passes from Fisheries Dept, which helped him catch and sell around 1 quintal of fishes in the market on 21st April and get the fingerlings for next cultivation.
Another vegetable farmer Prahalad Mahanta from Kalanda village in Raruan block in Mayurbhanj shared how the multi-location audio conference organised by Reliance Foundation helped him in selling his harvest of tomatoes, bitter gourd, brinjal, cow pea and snake gourd etc. He happily shares that he came to know about relaxation of restriction on agricultural activities and became the first farmer to obtain pass from the Assistant Horticulture officer in his circle. Based on guidance he got the vehicle pass for vegetable supply and could sell over 50 quintals of vegetables including 40 quintals tomatoes, 3 quintals bitter gourds, 3 quintals brinjals, 3 quintals cow peas and 1 quintal snake gourds, during the lockdown period.