Berhampur: Agriculture is the backbone of the economy of Odisha. Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik has always given utmost priority to the development of agriculture and empowerment of farmers in the State. From path-breaking initiatives like KALIA to development of land and technical support, the State Government has been extending all kinds support to the farmers.
The development of farmers depends on the proper market linkage for their products. The farmers can become financially independent only when they can harvest more and sell their products in a proper market system. Keeping it in view, the State Government is soon bringing a special agricultural policy. The draft policy has been sent to the Agriculture and Food Processing Export Development Authority of the Central Government. If this policy is implemented, the farmers of the State in generally, the farmers of Ganjam district who are dependent upon Kewda flower cultivation will be immensely benefited. The new policy is expected to pave the way for Kewda flower cultivators to sell their products directly in foreign markets.
Ganjam holds a special place in the country when it comes to cultivation and processing of Kewda flowers. Kewda flower cultivation is undertaken extensively in Rangeilunda, Chatrapur and Chikiti blocks of Ganjam District. The district is also having a large number of distilleries and kilns for preparation of perfumes and other products such as Kewda oil from the Kewda plants. People of more than 250 villages of the district secure their livelihoods through this cultivation. A piece of Kewda flower is sold between Rs 8 to Rs 11. The price of Kewda oil is something around Rs 4 lakh to Rs 5 lakh and the price per liter of perfume is around Rs 30,000 to Rs 40,000.
About three lakh people are directly and indirectly engaged in the cultivation of Kewda flower and its processing. The annual turnover of this fragrant flower cultivated in more than 6 thousand hectares of land is approximately Rs 70 crore. The Kewda flowers and other related materials are sent in large quantities to Uttar Pradesh where they are used in the preparation of perfumes and aromatic pan masalas. However, the marketing channels of Kewda flowers in Odisha have not been as extensive as it is expected to be. Therefore, the state government is going to formulate new agriculture export policy to provide better market platforms for this profitable cash crop which has become a major means of livelihood for the people of the coastal areas of Ganjam district.
Odisha has a special export policy, but no special agricultural export policy. Except for minerals and some other commodities including prawn, no other goods produced in the state are directly exported. The Kewda flower, although is popular abroad, the need to extend its benefits to local farmers has been felt for some time now.
Now the Government of Odisha is going to take measures for the benefit of the farmers. With the increase in demand for Kewda flower products, the financial benefits are directly accrued to the farmers of Ganjam district. If special agricultural policy is implemented, local farmers will directly get bigger markets and get more benefits.
The farmers do not have the financial capacity even to produce the quantity of production required for export. It is also planned to provide extensive training to local farmers and product groups. If the agricultural export policy is implemented, the farmers of Ganjam district will be able to sell the products made out from Kewda flower in the international markets. Other institutes around the world will have the opportunity to research the medicinal properties and different practical aspects of Kewda flowers.
Ganjam district has another profitable agriculture cultivation i.e. cashew cultivation and its industry is also on the rise. There are currently 160 cashew factories in the district which produce about 1 lakh metric tons of cashew worth an estimated Rs 50 crore annually. It is clear that the impact of Kewda flower and cashew crop on the economic sector of Ganjam district is huge. However, the main problem for the cashew industry in the district is the lack of raw materials. However, in order to further develop this profitable business, the Ganjam district administration has planned to plant 5 lakh cashew trees in the district this year under the MGNREGA scheme in consultation with the state agriculture department.
More and more cashew trees will be planted in the coming years as well which will be very helpful for the cashew industry of the district in the future. Instead of importing raw material from other states or countries, the district administration aims to expand the cultivation of cashew by promoting the farmers of the district. To improve the situation, the district administration is going to start a campaign to plant cashew trees.