Sanjeev Chadha, Director, Directorate of Horticulture Government of Odisha
“Bhubaneswar is the first city in the country to have online delivery of vegetables. You book it online and you get it by evening,” says Sanjeev Chandha. In conversation with Nayana Singh & Kartik Sharma
Please provide us with an overview of the work that Directorate of Horticulture is doing in Odisha?
Odisha has got ten agro-climatic zones. So it gives us opportunity to grow various crops all around the year. This is a huge advantage if we properly exploit the climatic conditions. In Odisha, we have focused on food crops like mango, cashew and to diversify the fruit basket we have tried other crops like guava, pineapple, etc and today Odisha is among the major mango and cashew growing states of the country. But still we have the less coverage under the processing variety. So far vegetable production is concerned we are in the top list in the country. The challenge is to link the farmers to the markets and to ensure that get good price by having access to the markets. So we have taken number of initiatives by organizing farmers into groups and farmer producer companies. Around 20 farmer producer companies have been registered under the Company’s Act and their business plan has been made, so that they can independently function as business entities. We are trying to empower them by providing basic infrastructure. This will act as game changer. Recently we have started our own retail chain in Bhubaneswar called “Udayan Fresh.” This is one of its kind experiences in the country. More than 10000 farmers of the neighboring districts have been registered with this. Farmers are trained and grouped and 7 companies have been constituted and more to come. It has helped farmer’s income more 40 per cent. With the help of this Consumers are also getting quality vegetable and farmers are getting paid on the same day and there is no role of middleman. We are going to try this in three big cities of the state like Baharampur, Sundergarh and Sambalpur.
Brief us on the online delivery of vegetables in Bhubneswar.
Bhubaneswar is the first city in the country to have online delivery of vegetables. You book it online and you get it by evening. It is called “Veggie Cart” program ( www.veggiecart.com). Here we have hand driven 30 carts, run by unemployed youth from the slums and they are properly trained. Carts are designed in such a way so that vegetables are kept fresh. This is another experience we have started and it is running successfully.
Please tell us about your initiatives called ‘School of Horticulture Training.’
In the agriculture sector is that we don’t have sufficient trained manpower and with the trend of urbanisation people moving out away from agriculture to urban areas, we decided to train youth from urban areas. We have got three institutes where we are trying to skill the unemployed youth in basic skills like orchard management, nursery management, and micro irrigation. In these three institutes unemployed boys and girls are trained and diploma course is also there. These people are getting employment in many industries, schools, private sector and many of them are starting of their own agri- enterprise. You cannot drive growth in economy without sufficient skilled manpower and that is why government has started skilling people and that too free of cost.
Please throw some light on the usage of IT by your department for development of horticulture in the state?
We are maintaining a portal for the farmers, through which all the subsidies are paid to the farmers. Similarly we are setting up a portal for the monitoring and implementation of schemes like oil pump and micro irrigation. Best thing is that we have used IT in agriculture centers where farmers sell his vegetables. So the data immediately comes to our server and by the evening various data are compiled and send to the bank and by evening farmer gets into his account and get money. We have ensured a transparent platform for farmers. This is the biggest advantage for the farmers and that has happened because of the use of technology