Odisha Channel Bureau
Bhubaneswar: As agriculture plays a vital role in the economy of Odisha and livelihood of majority of its population, the state government is according priority to the farm and allied sector to strengthen its economy, said Principal Secretary, Agriculture & Farmers’ Empowerment Saurabh Garg.
Garg was addressing a webinar titled ‘Agri-Business: Scopes and Opportunities’ organised by Odisha Corporate Foundation (OCF) on Friday.
“It is high time we took adequate measures to ensure that young entrepreneurs make use of the opportunities of relevant schemes of the central and state governments for agricultural growth of the state. They should be encouraged to invest in agriculture and allied sectors. Schemes like Agriculture Infrastructure Development Funds; Mission for Integrated Development of Horticulture; and Mukhyamantri Krushi Udyoga Yojana will strengthen the state’s economy while ensuring its agricultural growth,” Garg said.
He informed that loans to the tune of Rs. 1,00,000 crore will be provided to the farmers in the country by banks and other institutions under the Agricultural Infrastructure Fund. Odisha farmers will avail loan of Rs. 2,500 crore under this fund. Farmers as well as those keen to invest in agriculture and allied fields should reap the benefits, he added.
Director, Agriculture and Food Production, M Muthukumar said providing scope for use of new technologies and availability of proper agri-infrastructure will enable the current generation to adopt agriculture and allied sector as their occupation. However, a lot needs to be done to encourage the youth. He also shed light on proper storage of paddy and vegetables as the state produces a huge amount of these.
He highlighted the eight schemes including Integrated Mission for Integrated Development of Horticulture; Mukhyamantri Krushi Udyoga Yojana; PM Formalisation of Micro Food Processing Enterprises Scheme (PM FME Scheme); Odisha Millet Mission; Promotion of Agriculture Production Clusters (APCs) in Tribal Regions of Odisha; and Traditional Farming and Sustainable Development, which have been merged in the state under the Agriculture Infrastructure Fund. Kumar encouraged the farmers to avail loans online at https://www.agriinfra.dac.gov.in and discussed on subsidies and benefits under different schemes.
Director of Horticulture Rohit Kumar Lenka discussed on the need for transforming agriculture into agri-business and emphasised on identifying and sorting out obstacles with regards to adopting modern technologies in agriculture. “There is no dearth of schemes for this transformation. But, the youth need encouragement and proper guidance to avail benefits of these schemes,” he said.
Interested people will get all support from the government in this regard, Lenka added, while urging the youth to invest in floriculture, mushroom cultivation and production of spices. He also discussed on subsidies available in different schemes to develop infrastructure and storage of agricultural produces.
The state government is planning to promote one agri produce from each district to encourage micro-enterprises. Besides, integrated supply chain hubs in two major cities – Bhubaneswar and Sambalpur – are on the cards. Lenka also urged the bankers to favourably consider agricultural projects.
The Agricultural Promotion & Investment Corporation of Odisha Limited (APICOL) is the nodal agency to bring enterprise into agriculture, said its managing director P. K. Roul. He discussed on the function of APICOL and how it picks up a product from each district and promotes it. He maintained that APICOL will provide all support to the agri entrepreneurs of the state and the Non-Resident Odias (NROs) keen to invest in agri-business.
Former Chief Secretary Bijay Kumar Patnaik encouraged the youth to embrace agriculture and allied sector and feel proud to be farmers. He encouraged them to opt for organic farming and floriculture for a profitable career in agriculture. Organic farming combined with proper marketing is one of the most profitable occupations.