Maharashtra to seek Rs2,430 crore from Centre as relief for pest-hit cotton, paddy farmers
Experts estimate that the pest attack on cotton led to losses of Rs15,000 crore across the statemumbai Updated: Dec 31, 2017 00:17 IST
The state government will seek financial assistance of Rs2,430 crore from the central government under the National Disaster Response Fund (NDRF) to compensate farmers who were hit by the pest attack on cotton and paddy crops and loss of horticulture due to the Ockhi cyclone.
Almost 90% of the cotton crops standing on 41 lakh hectares in the state was hit in the pink bollworm pest attack in the last two months. Farmers are believed to have incurred huge losses as they did not get anything from the standing crops during third picking. Experts estimate the losses to be more than Rs15,000 crore across the state , with the majority of losses being incurred in Marathwada and Vidarbha regions. Similarly, the pest attack on paddy crops had caused huge losses in parts of Vidarbha.
The state government had last week announced compensation of Rs6,800 to Rs13,500 a hectare to cotton growers, Rs6,800 to Rs13,500 a hectare for paddy farmers and Rs13,500 to Rs18,500 a hectare for horticulture farmers as their share when compensation under the NDRF is announced. Following the announcement, the government has prepared a memorandum to be sent to the Centre to seek financial help. The financial assistance is being demanded after Union agriculture minister Radha Mohan Singh gave assurance to the state government, during their meeting on December 18 at Nagpur, about the relief package.
“The memorandum to be sent to the Centre has been finalised and will be submitted by Monday. Major part of the package demanded is towards the compensation to be given to cotton farmers,” Medha Gadgil, additional chief secretary, relief and rehabilitation department, told HT.
Bijay Kumar, principal secretary, agriculture department, said that NDRF assistance is applicable when more than 33% of the crop is lost. “Of the total area affected, about 80% has sustained losses of more than 33% and we are hopeful that we will get maximum support from the Centre,” he said.
After the memorandum is submitted, teams of senior officials from the central government will visit the affected area for assessment before the assistance is announced. According to officials from the agriculture department, many areas are unlikely to pass the parameters of the loss as the first two pickings of cotton in September and October yielded more than last year’s average. “Secondly, the estimated loss and the assistance demanded do not match when compared with the relief package already announced by the government in the state legislature last week. Past experiences show that we get very little against demanded funds. If it happened this time too, how are we going to pay out the compensation announced?,” an official from the agriculture department questioned.