6.1 Agriculture
Agriculture is the most essential sector in a country like India to ensure food security and over all sustainable rural development. Agriculture is the primary activity that is directly related with land resource, employment and standard of living of the rural people. It depends primarily on the integrated use of natural resources. During 2011 almost 70% of the land of the district was under cultivation. The actual net sown area was 214 thousand hectares. This is almost 4.57 % of the state’s total net sown area (District Statistical Handbook, 2011). About 76% of the main work force is related with this sector. Almost 41% share of the district’s income is from agriculture. Actually agriculture is the main source of livelihood of the rural population supplemented by fishing, livestock rearing and horticulture. Due to lack of mineral resource, development of industries has not progressed.

6.1.1 Factors affecting agriculture- It is mentioned earlier that the littoral set up in the eastern part of the district, submontane western hilly segment and the existence of the river intersected high fertile land makes the physical condition unique. Over all, the land accords facility of cultivation although in varying degrees. During field survey it was also noticed that holdings located in the vicinity of the hills or simply at the foot hills are well used for cultivation if not affected by lateritic layers. In coastal blocks like Baliapal, Bhograi the dune slacks and Chenier plains, specially the tidal flats, are well used for cultivation, specially paddy. The hilly tracts run suddenly down to the alluvial tract. It is fertile by nature as this is enriched with the vegetable matter or organic matter washed down from the hilly ridges. The rest is arable alluvial tract that varies from the high level arable land to the low level arable lands i.e. pats. On the basis of the location of the land three divisions have been identified from field surveys.

Soils also influence agriculture. Clayey soils are well known for producing rice and in some cases sugarcane. But Chitika matiala mati or clay loam to loamy texture is not suitable for cultivation as the stickiness is high in this soil and overall production is also not up to the mark. The farmers need to use sufficient fertilizers to get a reasonable output. ‘Dorosa mati’ is a mixture of sand and clay and well used for Rabi crop cultivation. ‘Talbelia’ is a type of loam containing more percentage of sand than dorosa. It is looser in texture and needs more fertilizers than other soils. ‘Baliamatiala’ is a loam with large percentage of earth or rich sandy loam. ‘Thengajami’ is a form of sandy soil generally left unused (Behuria, 1992).

The rainfall and temperature of the district are also suitable for cultivation. The climate is basically hot and humid. So the district mainly enjoys a subtropical humid climate. The average summer temperature is 35ºC on an average and in winter the average temperature becomes approximately 12ºC. Average rainfall of district is 1592 mm and the phase within June to September is wet. So throughout the year the climatic suitability for rice cultivation, different vegetable cultivation, horticulture, different oil seeds, specially mustard, is quite impressive. The coastal environment also provides suitability for betel cultivation beside paddy, groundnut, watermelon etc.

6.1.2 Agro-Climatic and Agro ecological sub regions There are ten agro climatic zones in Orissa. Among them, Balasore falls in the north eastern coastal plain. This zone is characterized by moist sub-humid climate. The mean annual rainfall of this zone is 1592 mm, the mean maximum summer temperatures is 36o C and mean minimum winter temperature is 14.8o C. The available soil types are red, lateritic, deltaic alluvial, coastal alluvial, saline etc.
Agro ecological regions form a basis for proposing suitable and sustainable rural land use planning (Figs.6.1A&B). According to FAO (1996) ‘An Agro-ecological Zone is a land resource mapping unit, defined in terms of climate, landform and soils, and/or land cover, and having a specific range of potentials and constraints for land use’. An agro-ecological zone is the unit of land carved out of agro- climatic zone , superimposed on landform which acts as modifier to climate, and length of growing period’ (Mandal.C ; Gajbhiye.K.S, 2000).

Table 6.1: Blocks covered under different Agro-Ecological situations of the district
Agro-climatic Zone – North Eastern Coastal Plain
Agro Ecological Situations Blocks Covered Area in
‘000 ha % to geographical area of the Zone Soil
Red lateritic, rain
fed Nilagiri, Oupada 49.062 13.00 Lateritic
Red lateritic, canal irrigated Khaira 41.514 11.00 Lateritic
Alluvial, canal irrigated Simulia 22.644 6.00 Alluvium
Alluvial ,rain fed Bahanaga, Jaleswar, Bhograi
& Remuna 98.124 26.00 Alluvium
Low lying, flood prone Balasore, Basta & Baliapal 90.576 24.00 Alluvium
Saline soil group Basta, Bahanaga, Baliapal,
Bhograi, Remuna & Soro 75.480 20.00 Saline
Source: Strategic Research and Extension Plan of District vide Comprehensive District Annual Plan-2011-12

6.1.3 Agricultural Infrastructure: Irrigation potential: Though mechanization, fertilizer use, modern technology now have great impacts on the production of crops, yet irrigation plays a prime role in agriculture. During primary survey almost 95% respondents supported the view.
Balasore district is fairly irrigated. The status of irrigation in the district is as follows-
i) In Kharif season only 55.58% is irrigated out of total cultivated area and 42.02% in Rabi season. In Orissa this is 46.39% in Kharif and 22.77% in Rabi season.
ii) Irrigation is the basic requirement in Kharif season to save the crop if drought condition occurs. But in Rabi season irrigation is the prime requirement. Hence, irrigation facility in Rabi season is essential for the farmers.

Fig:6.1A) Agro ecological sub regions of district. B) Area under agro ecological situations

iii) Lack of irrigation prevents a second crop in non-irrigated areas, mainly cash crops, during Rabi season. These lands are specifically used for moong and biri (pulses), ground nut, vegetable and paddy cultivation.
iv)The average development of ground water in the district is 41.85% as on March 2001.Block level ground water development varies from 19.42% to 69.71%.
v) Saline ground water is a problem in six blocks of the district: Bhograi, Baliapal, Basta, and Sadar, Remuna and Bahanaga. In these blocks installation of Shallow Tube Wells (STWs) with pump sets have been banned by the Govt. But during primary field survey shallow tube well installation has been noticed in the northern part. This leads to good production.
vi) Except lift irrigation, flow irrigation (Major & Medium Irrigation Projects) is also available in three blocks.
vii) The district has two Medium Irrigation Projects, i.e., a) Salandi Irrigation Project & b) Sunei Irrigation Project.

Table 6.2: Source and season wise irrigated area in Balasore vis-à-vis Orissa (2010-11)
Source district (Area in 000ha) Orissa (Area in 000ha)
Kharif Rabi Kharif Rabi
Major and medium irrigation projects(flow) 29.530 7.180 1349.499 616.727
Minor irrigation projects(flow) 9.428 3.170 561.814 74.531
Minor irrigation projects(Lift) 40.927 24.448 507.547 285.718
Other sources 73.360 64.222 616.990 500.997
Total irrigated area 153.245 99.020 3035.850 1477.973
% of cultivated area 61.298 39.608 49.124 23.915
Source: Orissa Agricultural Statistics, 2010-11

Pani Panchayat -Irrigation Potential creation has been a major scheme of the Government. After 2000, Pani Panchayat was implemented to keep maximum area under irrigation by involving farmers. Categorically one can classify the projects into major/ medium, minor, lift and other irrigation projects. To provide 35% irrigation facility, ‘Pani Panchayat’ was organized that ultimately helped to fulfill the irrigation requirement. Pani Panchayat is a participatory irrigation management implemented in 2002 and expanded significantly. The scheme was first implemented in the 90’s under the Orissa Water Resource Consolidation Project. The main objectives of this programme was –
i) Awareness among farmers about the benefit of the Pani Panchayat.
ii) Creating self dependency and appraisal among the farmers.
iii) Convincing farmers to go for cash crops.