BHUBANESWAR: DAYS after announcing a package of measures for drought hit farmers, the State Government on Monday declared pest infestation of paddy crops a natural disaster and extended same benefits to the affected farmers to tide over the crisis. The Government’s move came after farmers in various places across the State burnt their standing paddy crops following the pest attack and several distressed farmers committing suicide due to crop loss as insecticides failed to contain the pest menace in their paddy fields.
A meeting of the Agriculture Cabinet presided by Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik here approved the proposal for providing agricultural input subsidy to small and marginal farmers who have sustained crop loss of 33 per cent and above due to pest attack. “Input subsidy of Rs 6,800 per hectare of land in rainfed/non-irrigated areas and Rs 13,500 per hectare of land in areas under assured irrigation will be provided to affected farmers subject to a ceiling of two hectares per farmer,” Revenue Minister Maheswar Mohanty told media persons after the meeting. The assistance will be provided to actual cultivators, he added. After facing severe flak from farmers and Opposition for its failure to regulate sale of insecticides, the Cabinet decided to provide 75 per cent subsidy to farmers on purchase of pesticides for brown plant hopper (BHP) pest that caused extensive damage to paddy crops in more than 8 districts, for crops shown during the kharif 2017.
The Minister said 10,000 sprayers will be supplied to affected farmers at a subsidised rate of 50 per cent subject to maximum assistance of Rs 3000 per sprayer. Besides, 5,000 pump sets will be provided with 50 per cent subsidy which will be limited to Rs 15,000 per pump set. “Livelihood support in terms of backyard poultry will be extended to 50,000 landless, marginal and small farmers in pest affected areas and a focused approach will be made to take up intensive fodder cultivation through distribution of suitable kits,” said Agriculture Minister Damodar Rout. Rout said the Cabinet also decided to provide fresh finance for Rabi cultivation and conversion of short term kharif loans to medium term where crop loss is 33 per cent or more.
The due date of kharif short term loans will be extended upto September 30, 2018 to facilitate conversion of loans into medium term. The State will request the Centre to provide interest incentive of 3 per cent for medium term (conversion) loans. The package also includes a 50 pc remission in cess on land revenue for farmers where the crop loss is more than 33 per cent. Besides, tuition and examination fees in Government and aided schools and colleges of drought affected areas will be exempted.