.........KENDRAPARA: Non-supply of adequate jute seeds by the State Government-run Odisha Seeds Supply Corporation (OSSC) has hit the farmers of the coastal district of Kendrapara hard. Farmers failing to get seeds at subsidised rate are being forced to buy those from the open market at inflated prices.
Jagannath Parida, a jute farmer of Patalipanka village, said, “We are now in deep trouble due to shortage of jute seeds that is hampering cultivation. We had been purchasing seeds from the OSSC for more than three decades. But this year, the officials of OSSC in Kendrapara informed us that they have received only two quintals of jute seeds from the State headquarters to supply to farmers.”
Assistant Seed Production Officer Sridhar Behera said, “Recently, we received two quintals of certified jute seeds from the OSSC and it is being sold to farmers at subsidised rate of `10,000 per quintal. We expect the OSSC will provide more seeds soon.” Due to non-availability of jute seeds from the OSSC, a large number of farmers are being forced to purchase sub-standard seeds from the open market at a cost of `12,000 to `15,000 per quintal, said a farmers’ leader and secretary of district unit of Krushak Sabha Gayadhar Dhal.
Sarika Jena, a scientist of Jute Research Centre at Jajang in Kendrapara, said this year, around 7,000 farmers were supposed to grow jute crops on 1,000 hectares (ha) in the district and they need around 60 quintals of jute seeds. Five years ago, farmers of Kendrapara, Jajpur, Bhadrak and Keonjhar used to raise jute on 11,000 ha. But now, it has been reduced to 9,000 ha. Now-a-days polythene, plastic and synthetic fibres are used to prepare bags for which the demand for jute nose-dived in the State. Deputy Director of Agriculture Prafulla Mishra said the officials of OSSC have been requested to supply 28 quintals of jute seeds to the district.
The golden fibre, as jute is called, was an important cash crop for the farmers of the district and its nearby areas two decades ago. Due to Government apathy, the cultivation of jute in the district is on the verge of extinction, said Umesh Singh, a farmers’ leader.