Odisha plans to diversify its agriculture beyond popular cash crops with emphasis on legumes and dryland cereals including millets, the state’s Principal Secretary for Agriculture, Dr Saurabh Garg, announced during a recent visit to ICRISAT – Patancheru.
“We want to diversify agriculture beyond paddy in our projects. Legumes and millets are our focus,” he said, while adding that campaigns like Smart Food can aid in the diversification by promoting dryland cereals in the state.
Dr Garg led a delegation from the Odisha’s Department of Agriculture to ICRISAT to study new agricultural technologies and farm practices. The delegation also reviewed the progress of Bhoochetana project being implemented by ICRISAT in all the 30 districts of Odisha in partnership with the state government.
During interactions with the Director General Dr Peter S Carberry, RPD-Asia Dr Pooran Gaur and other ICRISAT scientists, Dr Garg sought greater involvement of local communities through NGO partners for the sustainability of research interventions. He also called for continued research in the state after completion of projects.
“I strongly urge that we work with local community-based organizations in all the endeavors. The research that we do can continue beyond the project period through Krishi Vigyan Kendras (KVKs). We have now identified that certain KVKs can work on specific crops rather than all of them focusing on the crops available,” he said.
Dr Carberry recalled the growth in India’s pulses output in recent years and said Odisha stands to capitalize on it in a big way. Along with Dr Garg and others, he unveiled Soil Health Cards printed in Odia. The cards provide vital information on soil health to farmers and are currently being distributed as part of the Bhoochetana Project.
The Odisha government’s agriculture department plans to distribute around 10,000 cards in the next four months in a mission mode. ICRISAT has already analyzed over 9,000 soil samples and has committed to analyzing 40,000 samples from across Odisha. ICRISAT is also assisting the Odisha government establish two state-of-the-art referral laboratories for soil testing.