BHUBANESWAR: Union Minister of State for Agriculture Gajendra Singh Sekhawat is coming on a two-day visit to the State on November 12 to review the crop situation as several districts are reeling under drought and pest attack.
Announcing this after a meeting with Union Agriculture Minister Radh Mohan Singh in New Delhi, Union Minister for Petroleum and Natural Gas Dharmendra Pradhan said Sekhawat will lead a high-level team comprising agricultural scientists and visit pest affected areas, including the worst hit Bargarh district.
Briefing mediapersons after the meeting, Singh blamed the State Government for not taking preventive measures to save kharif crop from pest attack despite advance advisory issued by the Central Rice Research Institute (CRRI), Cuttack.
“Forewarning pest attack on paddy crops, the CRRI had issued advisory on October 4 and 5 for application of pesticides, but Odisha Government paid no heed,” Singh said.As reports on pest attack came in the media, Singh said the Agriculture Ministry informed it to the National Centre for Integrated Pest Management, Mysore which took up the issue with CRRI in Cuttack district. The CRRI sent a team of scientists to the affected areas to study the situation and issued necessary instructions to the State Government to control the pest.
“The State Government has not informed the Ministry about the pest attack so far. We have taken action as per media reports,” Singh said.The Union Agriculture Minister further said the Ministry has provided necessary Central assistance to the State Government for supply of agricultural inputs, including pesticides. “Though the centre has provided ` 53.78 crore for distribution of agricultural inputs and pesticides under the National Food Security Programme, the State Government has so far utilised `1.98 crore,” Pradhan said.
Describing the present crisis in the State as man-made, Pradhan squarely blamed the ruling BJD for the situation. Instead of announcing packages for the farmers, the State Government should take immediate measures to control pest attack and instill a sense of confidence among the farmers, he added.
According to official sources, a whopping 1.78 lakh hectare of paddy farm in nine districts in Western Odisha have been damaged by massive pest attack and nine farmers have ended their lives over crop loss due to pest attack in the last 10 days.