Farmers who have burnt their pest-infected paddy crop will not be given compensation for pest attack as losses cannot be estimated “if there are no crops in the fields”, the Odisha government announced today. Farmers who have suffered 33 per cent crop loss or more due to pest attack would be compensated, Agriculture and Farmer Empowerment Minister Damodar Rout said after a meeting with senior officials. The family of Brunda Sahu of Bargarh district, who committed suicide after setting his crop afire, too would not get any compensation for the loss.
“How can they (farmers who set fire to crop) be given compensation? If there will be no crop in the fields, how can officials estimate losses?” Rout asked. Unable to control the attack of brown planthopper, many farmers have burnt their paddy crop in about 10 districts of the state. The agriculture minister said the revenue and disaster management department would give details of crop damage due to the pest attack on Monday. The Biju Janata Dal government is sympathetic towards farmers who have suffered due to the pest attack, said the minister, who had yesterday appealed to peasants not to set fire to their infected paddy fields.
On the alleged suicide of Bargarh district farmer Brunda Sahu, he said a detailed probe is required to ascertain the reason behind his death. It should be properly probed as to why Sahu consumed poison in the presence of several people a day after torching his crop, Rout said. He said the government should also find out whether the land belonged to Sahu or he was a sharecropper. “Besides, we have to check whether he had taken loan from bank,” the minister said. The pest attack has affected 1.10 lakh acre of land across the state. 34,000 acre of paddy fields are under a “severe” attack, he said.
Farmers have sprayed pesticides in 68,000 acre of paddy fields, the minister said. In the past few days, several farmers in Bargarh, Jharsuguda, Nuapada, Ganjam, Sambalpur, Rayagada, Kalahandi and Gajapati districts have set fire to their pest-infected crops. Meanwhile, an unconfirmed report from Ganjam district said Alaya Jena, a farmer of Sankhemundi village who had consumed pesticide over alleged crop loss on Friday, died today at Berhampur hospital.