By Sibdas Kundu

Baripada, 7th June, 2016 (OdishaLIVE Bureau):  A small initiative of district administration  undertaken three years ago to protect the interest  of  small and marginal mango producers of Mayurbhanj has started paying off.

For the first time, a company has been formed and farmers are marketing their products through their own company, ‘Mayurbhanj Fruits and Vegetables Producer’s Company’ which came in existence since November 17, 2015.

While their varieties of mangoes are reaching Delhi, Jamshedpur and Bokaro, the farmers are registering a good profit.

The interesting part of the company is that it is wholly managed by the tribal producers themselves and they have engaged a young MBA student, passed out from North Orissa University, to look after their marketing and other management affairs. The company now has 362 members.

“Although the district administration has helped us to form a registered company initially to export mangoes, now we are picking up vegetables too and marketing them outside the state. The producers are getting genuine price after formation of the company,” said Jitendra Hembram, the managing director of the company.

It all started about three years back while the incumbent district collector, Rajesh Prabhakar Patil, happened to come across a patch, Basketala under Bangriposhi block, with trees bearing quality mangoes mainly Dasheri and Langra.

He could learn that there are about 1800 mango trees which are grown by the private individuals, 43 farmers, on their own lands.Further he was shocked to know that they were severely exploited by the traders of UP and Bihar while they were plucking the total  mangoes  of a tree by giving only  Rs 150 to Rs 200.

“These traders used to come from UP and Bihar and were paying some advances around Rs 50 per tree to the tribal mango tree owners during Makar Sankranti, and they used to leave a care taker to protect the mango flower against insects and fog etc. and collect the mango during harvesting,” said the district supply and marketing society Chief Executive Kesab Jha.

“They were exploited to the optimum level and after district collector, Patil’s intervention their  interests were not only protected but also their produce is now being sold in Delhi’s Mother Dairy. Initially, they were marketing through mango producers group now they are doing it through their company,” he said.

Giving them a market linkage opportunity in the initial year 2013-14, while they could send 12 MT to Mother Dairy, in the subsequent years their export quantum increased. Last year, they earned a profit of Rs 15 lakh with harvest of around 83 MT and shared the amount among themselves and a mango producer Shakra Hansda, a woman got highest amount Rs 1.4 lakh as share followed by Kisan Murmu with Rs 1.3 lakh profit.

This year so far harvest has been 32 MT and 11 MT has been already sent to Mother Dairy. “The incumbent collector is like an angel for us. The path he has shown to us is unforgettable,” said Kisan Murmu.

In the year 1994-95, the mango plantation was undertaken in the patch under Bangiriposhi block under Employment Assurance Scheme. Ever since these trees bore fruit, they were exploited by the middlemen and traders not finding proper marketing opportunities.

ORMAS, Orissa Rural development and marketing Society have not only given training on protection of mango tree, better yield packaging also given exposure visits to different places. The farmers while facing problems to transport their mangoes through rail the district collector after writing to the Divisional railway manager addressed the issue to protect the perishable goods.

The horticulture department has provided them with the facilities for grading, packaging and cold chamber.  “This facilities worth around Rs 18 lakh is given by the deputy director horticulture Dharanidhara Patra. They are of immense help to us,” said Jitendra Hembram, the MD of the company.

The district collector, Rajesh Prabhakar Patil said, “The farmers or growers can’t get their price unless they operate in a group. So the company consisting of groups has been formed. Now they are directly in touch with the market and reaping the benefits. All these measures were taken to prevent the farmers from exploitation. With this success we are planning to undertake Maize in 400 hectares of land too.”

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