SAMBALPUR/BARGARH : Even as political atmosphere has been surcharged over suicide of farmers and crop loss due to pest attack, there are some farmers who are unaffected by the crisis. It was sometime ago that they were being laughed at by fellow farmers for choosing traditional variety of paddy which would give less yield. But today, while several farmers are feeling devastated, the traditional farmers are least worried as pest has failed to intrude into their fields leave alone attacking their crop.
Meet Sudam Sahu of Katapali village, 7 km from Bargarh town, who had cultivated local variety of paddy. He was fortunate that he had preserved the seed which he had cultivated over five acres of land. The robust swinging stalks of paddy hanging from plants clearly reflect that the pests have failed to make any dent in his crop.
Stating that standing crop adjacent to his farm land has been badly affected by Brown Plant Hopper (BPH), he said the crop on his land has not been affected. Unlike his colleagues, Sudam had sowed Suna Harina, Kusumkali-1 and Kusumkali-2 paddy varieties on his land and had even shared seed with some of his fellow farmers. About 25 acres of land on which local variety of paddy was cultivated in the village has escaped the pest attack. The result is no different in Barahgad village near Bargarh town where the local variety has been cultivated on about 100 acres.
Similar is the case of Jogesh Bhoi of Talab village under Dhankauda block in Sambalpur district, who had grown local variety of paddy on his two acres apart from high yielding Swarna on 10 acres of land. While the crop on 10 acres in which Swarna variety had been cultivated has been damaged due to pest attack, the two acres on which local variety of paddy was cultivated is safe even though the yield will be comparatively less.
Jogesh said over the last couple of years, he has been growing local variety of paddy on two acres of land for self-consumption. While he had spent `5,000 for local variety, he has already pumped in `25,000 for Swarna variety. He failed to save his crop even after repeated spraying of pesticide, while he managed only with manure on local variety. The only difference is that while you get 20 bags of paddy per acre from local variety, the yield in Swarna will be 30 bags, he added. The result has been same for Byomokesh Thakur, Tarani Bhoi, Suratha Pradhan, Ballab Sahu, Nigananada Sahu and others of the village who had opted for local variety and are least worried about crop loss.
Farmer leader Saroj Kumar said the local variety of paddy is climate resilient and the State Government should promote it in a big way. The Government should offer incentive and try to encourage organic farming besides helping the farmers in preserving traditional seeds, which are facing extinction.
Deputy Director Agriculture (DDA), Sambalpur, Pradosh Samal said the stem of local variety of paddy, where normally the pest attack takes place, is hard and the Brown Plant Hopper finds it difficult in sucking the chlorophyll. Moreover, since the use of fertiliser is almost nil, the pests stay out of the local variety.