The Odisha government has been giving top priority to the development of irrigation and agriculture facilities in the state. As part of such efforts, the government has undertaken many pioneering initiatives. Around 3.96 hectares of additional irrigation potential has been created in the past two years and close to 26,253 deep borewells have been completed out of 30,000 targeted. Budget allocation for agriculture has increased from Rs 2,000 crore to Rs 7,000 crore now. Agricultural loans are being offered to farmers at a nominal 1% rate of interest. Separate agricultural feeders with an outlay of Rs 1,000 crore have been provided for regular power supply to the farmers. The state government wants to achieve 10 lakh hectres of irrigation facilities by 2019 out of which 2.94 lakh hectares have been created during 2014-15 and 2015-2016. In all, 2,144 lift irrigation points have been installed, and 63,446 check dams have been completed. Also, field channels of 1,42,467 hectares have been completed.
Separate agriculture budget for 2016-17
The Odisha government on 18 March 2016 tabled a separate agriculture budget of Rs 13,181.89 crore for 2016-17 in the state Assembly. The budget is about 20.89% more than the outlay for the previous year and about 14.02% of the total outlay of the general budget for 2016-17. The government proposed a start-up fund for promotion of entrepreneurship in agriculture business, agriculture-based industries and enterprises.
Separate agri cabinet
The Odisha government on 26 February 2016 decided to set up an Agriculture Cabinet, besides changing the nomenclature of the Agriculture Department to Department of Agriculture and Farmers Empowerment. The Agriculture Cabinet would be headed by the Chief Minister, and nine other ministers associated with agriculture and farmers would be members in the proposed body.
DBT for farmers
The state government has started direct transfer of agricultural subsidy to bank accounts of farmers, thereby ensuring transparency and plugging of gaps to stop pilferage. The project will also ensure faster payment of subsidies and complete transparency.
In 2014, the state government had declared that 10 lac hectare had to be added to potential irrigation land, out of which 3.96 lakh hectares have already been added. Among the major irrigation projects started is the Rs 212 crore Mega Lift Irrigation project in Kalahandi district. The project on river Ret will provide irrigation facilities to about 5,000 hectares of land.
Minor irrigation projects
The Minor Irrigation Wing of the state has taken some bold decisions for improvement of irrigation potential and help farmers cope up with climatic changes. Focus has also been given to creating ecotourism parks in the existing MIPs. Comprehensive database for check dams, canal systems are also under preparation. These databases will help in establishing a strong monitoring mechanism for minor irrigation systems. Citizens will have access to a feedback and grievance registering system when these databases are put in public domain.
Fisheries: The state government recently approved the Odisha Fisheries Policy, 2015, to increase the productivity and production of fish from island, brackishwater and marine resources. The sector specific policy targets 7.15 lakh tonne of total fish production by the end of 2019-20 from present level of 4.13 lakh tonnes.
Poultry & Dairy: The state government recently released a revised poultry policy which exempts stamp duty on purchase of land and conversion charges of agricultural field to homestead land meant for poultry farming. Animal husbandry farmers would be given assistance like leasing government land to set up poultry farms and feed mixing plants which are considered as captive unit. Dairy and poultry development activities are being accelerated to augment livestock productivity in terms of milk, meat and eggs, and thereby to contribute to food production to alleviate rural poverty.