HYDERABAD: The Kisan Mitra helpline in Hyderabad, set up to address grievances of farmers, has been flooded with calls from Vikarabad farmers this week like never before. The organisation’s volunteers attribute it to huge losses incurred in the last two months due to which paddy and red gram cultivators from the district are in urgent need of help. C Harsha, coordinator with the helpline, said, “Lack of rainfall in Vikarabad had marginally affected the yield of crops like red gram, maize and paddy. But over the last two months, there has been a crisis situation for the cultivators of paddy and red gram. Surprisingly, on an average, we have received about 55 calls a day from these farmers only from Vikarabad this week.”
The number of calls they have received is much higher than a maximum of 20 calls from farmers received by the helpline on a normal day. “Paddy crops damaged because of a pest called brown plant hopper (BPH) and the red gram crops because of a fungus called Fusarium Wilt in its root, which kills the entire crop,” explained Harsha.When asked about what could be the solution to the damage, Rajshekhar, agricultural scientist associated with the helpline, said, “The fungus Fusarium Wilt spreads within the soil and affects the root of the plant.
However, there are varieties of red gram seeds which are resistant to the fungus. They are also better quality seeds. So, there is a need for volunteers to educate farmers about those seeds. It will be a long-term solution as they can prevent the damage next year by sowing better seeds.”
Further, speaking about the paddy crops in Vikarabad damaged by pests, he said crops on which pesticides with excessive nitrogen content have been used were vulnerable to attack by BPH. The pest sucks out the saps from a crop and rapidly damages it. Even in Odisha, paddy crops were damaged by the pest in huge numbers. However, speaking about immediate rescue plans, helpline volunteers said red gram crops can’t be saved once they have wilted under attack by Fusarium Wilt. So this harvesting season, not much can be done to help them except provide them insurance for their damages under Pradhan Mantri Fasal Beema Yojana.