Tribals seek spice research centre
JEYPORE: The demand for a spices development research centre here under Orissa University of Agriculture and Technology (OUAT) is gaining ground as the tribal farmers of the district continue parleys at different places to pressurise the government on the issue.
According to reports, hundreds of farmers of Potangi, Semiliguda, Nandapur, Boipariguda, Laxmipur, Dasmantpur, Bandhugam and Kotpad areas are languishing under acute poverty despite producing quintals of high cost spices from their lands. Their condition has worsened as the government and non-governmental agencies have not yet set up marketing units and research centre for spices in the region.
Taking advantage of the conducive soil and climatic conditions, tribal farmers cultivate ginger and turmeric in about 10,000 acres of land and produce over 40,000 quintals of spices every year. But they continue to remain below the poverty line for lack of marketing network for their produce.
The farmers of Potangi, Turia, Nandapur, Subai, Maliput and Doraguda said they have been selling their spices only in the local weekly markets and there is not much demand for their produce.
Usually local businessman and consumers buy ginger and turmeric from them at a throwaway price. They get only one-fourth of their investment following such distress sale, they said. When the market prices of spices like ginger and turmeric are between Rs 30 and Rs 40 per kilogram in outside market, the hapless farmers get Rs 5 to 8 for the produce in the local markets, they lamented.
Although the regulated market committees (RMC) of the district have been monitoring the marketing of paddy and oil seeds in the region, they have not yet taken any steps for proper storage and marketing of spice products to check the distress sale, the farmers complained.
On the other hand, the local varieties of spices have not yet reached big markets for the lack of proper research and motivation from the government agencies. Moreover, the spice farmers are not aware of quality aspects of their produce. Though the State Agriculture Minister, Amar Prasad Satpathy, had assured the farmers to set up a marketing network during his visit to the area, nothing has been done so far.
Meanwhile, they have decided to motivate all the farmers for the formation of a spices development research centre at Jeypore for further development of spice farming.
Official sources said for the first time the Seed Corporation of Orissa procured over 1300 quintals of ginger from the farmers.