Pests ruining crops, lives in Orissa | india | Hindustan Times
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Pests ruining crops, lives in Orissa

All over Sambalpur, one of the biggest rice-producing districts in Orissa, the kharif crop — sown with the beginning of the first rains in July — is doomed because of the caterpillars. Priya Ranjan Sahu reports.

india Updated: Aug 14, 2009 01:16 IST
Priya Ranjan Sahu

Balaram Bhoi watched helplessly as uncountable swarms of caterpillars chomped away at his four-acre paddy field.

A poor farmer in Gulamal village in Sambalpur district, about 390 km west of Bhubaneswar, Bhoi, 42, had taken a loan of Rs 40,000 from a local moneylender, as no bank would give money to a sub-tenant like Balaram.

On Monday, he found no other way than committing suicide.

All over Sambalpur, one of the biggest rice-producing districts in Orissa, the kharif crop — sown with the beginning of the first rains in July — is doomed because of the caterpillars. Of the 194,000 hectare of cultivable land in the district, paddy has been sown in more than 60,000 hectare so far.

While the fields are already dried up because of the weak monsoon, swarming caterpillars have completely eaten away the green paddy leaves.

“The situation is grim,” said Sambalpur deputy director of agriculture D.C. Pal. He said the presence of caterpillars was not unique. But they are usually washed away in the rains. “This time due to the lack of rains, they have multiplied,” Pal said.

Orissa agriculture secretary UP Singh, who visited Sambalpur on Wednesday, instructed the district officials to immediately provide pesticides to farmers at 50 per cent discount.

The agriculture department has asked the government to provide sprayers. “But by the time they come, there won’t be a single field left unharmed,” said Ashok Pradhan, president, Sambalpur Krushak Surakshya Sangathan.