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Odisha’s Crop Diversification Program in Mega Lift Irrigation Project a Beacon of Sustainable Agriculture

Bhubaneswar: Odisha’s innovative Crop Diversification Programme in the Mega Lift Irrigation Project (CDP-MLIP) has evolved into a role model for sustainable agriculture, exceeding targets and effectively combating the challenges posed by climate change. The program, designed to ensure nutritional security and augment farmers’ income, received acclaim for its accomplishments during a State Level Workshop on CDP-MLIP convened at Krushi Bhavan in Bhubaneswar.

Principal Secretary Dr. Arabinda Kumar Padhee underscored the program’s significance in addressing climate change challenges while enhancing climate resilience and tackling nutritional security concerns. The initiative stands as a comprehensive approach, simultaneously addressing multiple agricultural issues.

“In this era of climate change, policies, programs, and projects need to be designed to mitigate its impact. With agriculture covering 61.81 lakh hectares in Odisha, the Crop Diversification Programme, implemented on over 1 lakh hectares last year, showcases how adaptation measures can effectively combat climate change,” emphasized Dr. Padhee.

Director of Agriculture & Food Production, Prem Chandra Chaudhary, reported that the Crop Diversification target achieved this year surpassed 130 percent. He urged district officials to collaborate with local quality seed dealers to ensure the provision of high-quality inputs, further elevating program outcomes.

Director of Horticulture, Rohit Kumar Lenka, encouraged officials to take ownership of the program for successful implementation. He emphasized the importance of reaching end-users and establishing effective marketing channels to maximize the value of farmers’ produce.

The Odisha government initiated mega lift irrigation projects since 2021-2022, providing life-saving irrigation to upland and midland crops by drawing water from rivers and reservoirs. These projects span rivers like Vansadhara, Indravati, Tel, Mahanadi, Brahmani, Baitarani, Rushikulya, Budhabalanga, and the lands on the banks of Hirakud and Rengali reservoirs.

The transition from paddy to non-paddy crops, initially experimented in the uplands and midlands in mega lift irrigation project areas of select districts in 2021, has expanded to cover 22 districts of the state. These districts include Angul, Bargarh, Balangir, Boudh, Cuttack, Deogarh, Dhenkanal, Gajapati, Ganjam, Jajpur, Jharsuguda, Kalahandi, Kendrapara, Malkangiri, Mayurbhanj, Nabarangpur, Nuapada, Rayagada, Sambalpur, Subarnapur, Sundergarh, and Koraput.

The initiative has transformed into a grassroots movement through extensive awareness campaigns, community engagement, training sessions, and outreach activities. Shifting towards cultivating non-paddy crops, vegetables, and spices has not only improved farmers’ economic well-being but also transformed dietary habits, promoting a balanced diet among communities. Initiatives like establishing Bio-Input Production centers and Custom Hiring Centers have contributed to enhancing soil health, reducing farming costs, and providing easy access to agricultural implements.

During the recent kharif season, over 2,22,041 farmers received substantial financial assistance, totaling 121.59 crores under this scheme. The growing interest in non-paddy cultivation signifies the program’s positive impact on farmers.

The transition from paddy to non-paddy crops in Mega Lift Irrigation Project areas aligns with climate resilience goals and holds the promise of doubling farmers’ income. It has spurred interest in organic farming, enhanced financial stability, contributed to soil conservation, biodiversity preservation, and ensured nutritional security, showcasing its multifaceted impact on agriculture in Odisha.

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