Adequate measures should be taken to encourage young entrepreneurs to make use of the opportunities of the schemes of the Centre and the state government for agricultural growth of the state, and investment in the sector, said Agriculture Secretary Saurabh Garg. Schemes like Agriculture Infrastructure Development Funds, Mission for Integrated Development of Horticulture and Mukhyamantri Krushi Udyoga Yojana will strengthen the states economy while ensuring its agricultural growth, Garg said addressing a webinar. The webinar titled ‘Agri-Business: Scopes and Opportunities’ was organised on Saturday by Odisha Corporate Foundation (OCF), a non-profit organisation.
Noting that Rs 1 lakh crore loans will be provided to the farmers in the country by banks and other institutions under the Agricultural Infrastructure Fund, he said Odisha farmers can avail loans of Rs 2,500 crore under this fund. Farmers as well as those keen to invest in agriculture and allied fields should reap the benefits, he added. Director, Agriculture and Food Production, M Muthukumar said the use of new technologies and the availability of proper agri infrastructure will help the younger generation to take a plunge into the sector. However, a lot needs to be done to encourage the youth to tap the vast potential of the farm sector, he said, while throwing light on proper storage of paddy and vegetables as the state produces a huge volume of these.
Director of Horticulture Rohit Kumar Lenka emphasised on the need for transforming agriculture into agri-business and emphasised on identifying and sorting out obstacles with regards to adopting modern technologies. There is no dearth of schemes for this transformation. But, the youth needs encouragement and proper guidance to avail benefits of these schemes, he said. Interested people will get all support from the government in this regard, he said, urging the youth to invest in floriculture, mushroom cultivation and production of spices. He also discussed subsidies made available in different schemes to develop infrastructure and storage of agricultural produce. The state government is planning to promote one agri product from each district to encourage micro-enterprises.
Besides, integrated supply chain hubs in two major cities – Bhubaneswar and Sambalpur – are on the cards, officials said. Lenka also urged the bankers to favourably consider agricultural projects. The Agricultural Promotion and Investment Corporation of Odisha Limited (APICOL) is the nodal agency to bring enterprise into agriculture and will provide all support to the agri entrepreneurs of the state and the Non-Resident Odias (NROs) keen to invest in agri-business, said its managing director PK Roul. Former Odisha Chief Secretary Bijay Kumar Patnaik encouraged the youth to embrace agriculture and allied sectors and feel proud to be farmers. He encouraged them to opt for organic farming and floriculture for a profitable career in agriculture. Organic farming combined with proper marketing is one of the most profitable occupations, Patnaik said.