Cultivation shifting from mixed plantations to commercial crops

The geographical area of Integrated Tribal Development Agency (ITDA), Parlakhemundi spans 3.5k sq km covering 5 Blocks of Gajapati District of Orissa and parts of Andhra. ITDA intends to cultivate commercial crops like coffee and pepper. It is also scouting for areas which are conducive for apple cultivation. The natives in areas of focus were extensively following Podu/Shifting cultivation. Prior to which the ITDA initiated mixed plantation comprising mango, cashews and jack fruit.

Why the focus on commercial crops?

Shifting cultivationPodu land necessitates clearing forest areas which is known to cause heavy loss of fertile top soil and in turn leave the land barren. The people in agency area were yet to be familiarized with horticultural practices.

ITDA backed by the horticulture department introduced mixed plantations of mango, cashews and jack fruit, of which only jack fruit yielded the desired quantity of produce. This is due to heavy rain in Visakhapatnam and the dew factor proves detrimental for these two crops.

Breadfruit, sweet tamarind and almonds are also eyed as profitable cultivars by experts though ITDA is not promoting them due to temperature fluctuations and marketing challenges.

The Resultant Change:

ITDA is promoting coffee cultivation as a part of commercial crop promotion. Coffee has been yielding reasonably well in many parts that come under the agency’s purview. The popular variety in this region is Robusta which is widely cultivated with pepper. Coffee and pepper are game changers in the agency area. Plans for quality improvement under the coffee expansion plan entails wet processing through baby pulpers, organic certification and market support from Girijan Cooperative Corporation.

A software solution that helps integrate better with farmers could help the ITDA ensure that the plan to cultivate coffee, pepper and apples proves to be a game changer as intended.

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