Bargarh:The district is billed the rice bowl of Odisha as the state government procures the largest volume of paddy from Bargarh. However, an excessive usage of chemical pesticides and introduction of untested paddy seeds by farmers may rob the district of this coveted tag.
Farmers here who mostly rely on paddy cultivation complain that despite administering pesticides in ample quantity, common crop diseases like ‘Hopper Burn’ due to Brown Plant Hopper (BPH) and Leaf Blast diseases are found common in paddy plants. They affect the plants at any stage of their development, damaging the crops and raising the input costs.
“We use the best possible fertilizers and pesticides (chemical) to avert any threats of diseases but these days, they are very common that not only push up our input costs but also reduce the harvest,” Purandar Sahoo, a farmer from Bansipalli village in Attabira block of Bargarh district, said.
According to experts, a large portion of the district’s farm land has been put under commercial farming and the farmers prefer chemical pesticides to organic pesticides to get quick results.
“Chemical pesticides are easily available in the market. We have heard about organic pesticides but the government agencies have failed to educate us on their advantages and usage,” said Sudhir Biswal from Dumberpalli village in the district.
Experts believe there are several reasons for the menace. An official from the state agriculture department, requesting anonymity, said there are a number of untested seeds imported from Andhra Pradesh that fail fight the diseases.
There are other reasons too. NC Barik, a scientist from the Krishi Vigyan Kendra (KVK), Bargarh, told Orissa POST, “Andhra seeds are one of the reasons. Elongated cultivation of same variety of paddy, late transplant of paddy and disparity of irrigation in the district are some of the reasons behind the spurt in diseases.” A large number of people from Andhra Pradesh have settled down in the area and they have bought large patches of land for cultivation. They use the Andhra variety seeds for larger output.
Meanwhile, health experts have expressed concern over the escalation of ailments due to prolonged usage of chemical pesticides. “Pesticides usage-related diseases have been rising in the district. Cases relating to bronchitis, asthma and skin diseases over the last few years have gone up in the region,” Dr Bijay Kumar Beura, Chief District Medical Officer (CDMO), Bargarh said.