Identify more crops for value addition, say farmers

The government’s proposal to promote value addition for banana cultivated in Mysuru under One District One Product (ODOP) has raised concern over its long-term impact on crop diversity.

ODOP is backed by Pradhan Mantri Formalisation of Micro food processing Enterprise (PF FME) Scheme announced by the Centre. While Mysuru has been identified for banana, turmeric has been identified for value addition in Chamarajanagar and jaggery in Mandya district.

The concern of a section of farmers stems from the slew of benefits that will be available for the entrepreneurs including 35 percent credit-linked capital subsidy for ramping up infrastructure for value addition.

Vivek Cariappa, an organic farmer from Sargur region said this could drive demand for banana and result in a large-scale shift from other crops to plantains in the long run. Citing the example of ginger, Mr. Cariappa said it was initially taken up under contract farming by entrepreneurs from Kerala and local farmers leased their land for ginger cultivation.

When the farmers realised that ginger cultivation was more profitable, there was a large-scale shift from other crops to ginger which led to a glut in the market and the prices collapsed as the supply exceeded demand. Now the ginger farmers are in dire straits and banana planters too could face the same situation, said Mr. Cariappa.

However, senior officials in the Agriculture Department allayed such fears and said the ODOP was only for value addition to what is being cultivated and for perishable crops only. They said banana plantation will not be encouraged to the exclusion of other crops. Besides, it is not part of any agricultural policy and was an initiative to give thrust to micro food processing units, according to the officials.

But Mr. Cariappa said farmers tend to shift to a crop which has more subsidy in anticipation of higher returns and hence the shift from other crops to banana cultivation could not be ruled out. He suggested crop planning at district level so that farmers are kept in the loop on the demand-supply equation of agricultural produce and to avoid the pitfalls arising out of glut in production of any one crop. ‘’Let them identify a basket of crops for value addition in every district instead of focusing only one crop’’, said Mr.Cariappa.

Atahalli Devaraja of Sugarcane Cultivators Association said subsidy will not determine cropping pattern and farmers will take up crops suitable in any given area based on the local weather and soil conditions. While any initiative to extend value addition to banana in Mysuru or turmeric in Chamarajanagar was welcome, similar initiatives should be taken for other crops as well, he added.

Banana is cultivated on nearly 2,000 hectares of land in Mysuru district and the annual production is pegged at around 2.5 lakh tonnes.

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Printable version | Feb 26, 2021 9:55:29 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/karnataka/identify-more-crops-for-value-addition-say-farmers/article33583473.ece

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