With the opposition political parties harping on the neglect of agriculture sector in the State during the last 13 years of Biju Janata Dal (BJD) rule, the Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik on Sunday formed a nine-member committee headed by the former agriculture minister Pradip Maharathi to counter the campaign.
The Chief Minister said in a release issued here that the committee will take steps to popularise the initiatives taken by the BJD government for agriculture development and welfare of the farmers.
The committee will conduct meetings throughout the State during next two months by involving local leaders, farmers groups and organisations, he said.
The committee has been asked to organise training programmes by holding meetings and workshops for the party cadres and leaders at gram panchayat and block levels on agriculture budget, agriculture policy and initiatives taken by the State Government in irrigation sector.
The Chief Minister said special focus will be given on creation of awareness about the Biju Krushak Kalyan Yojana, availability of crop loan at two per cent interest and subsidies provided by the government in agriculture and allied sectors.
The committee has also been asked to popularise initiatives taken on fisheries and animal husbandry sectors with special emphasis on fishermen package, mobile veterinary health units and gram panchayat level veterinary camps, Naveen said.
The other members of the committee include Nrushingha Charan Sahu, Debaraj Mohanty, Atanu Sabyasachi Nayak, Manohar Randhari, Pushpendra Singhdeo, Sushant Singh, Bhagirathi Sethi and Bijay Naik (all BJD MLAs).
The Congress and BJP described the announcement of the committee as a gimmick ahead of next elections.
The Chief Minister never thought about the farmers during the last 13 years, but now he has taken notice of them, a senior Congress leaders said, criticising the State Government for its failure in checking suicide by growing number of farmers.