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Rashmi Rekha Das

The International Horticulture Exhibition: Floriade Expo 2022 is all set to commence from September 8 in Netherlands and three senior IAS officers from Odisha are leaving for a seven-day tour to attend the meet. However, opting out four successful farmers from tour has been criticised by all and sundry.

According to sources, four farmers hailing from Koraput, Jagatsinghpur and Puri districts have been finalised to attend the expo. But they failed to get visa for which they are barred from attending the horticulture expo. They are deprived from touring abroad because their visas are not readied by Agriculture department. On the other hand, three senior bureaucrats will take part in the event which led to resentment among farmers.

Bureaucrats who will attend the expo are Sanjib Chopra, Sanjiv Kumar Chadha and Rohit Kumar Lenka.  The officials got visa through administrative quota easily while farmers faced difficulties to get visa for the tour despite submitting their passports before time.
It is being alleged that though the selected farmers had submitted their passports much before time, the agriculture department has failed to provide them visa.

It may be mentioned that in 1996-97 bureaucrats had gone on a foreign tour to attend farming related expo without taking farmers with them. Current agriculture Minister Ranendra Pratap Swain, who was then in the Opposition party, had criticised the state government heavily. 
Jagatsinghpur-based farmer Asish Mohanty said, “Our passports were taken for visa processing.  We were informed at the last moment that visa processing was not done.  We missed the chance. It was definitely a great opportunity to learn and explore new ideas.”

Murali Adhikari from Koraput said, “My Aadhaar card and passport were taken by the government officials for visa processing. I was really excited to attend the expo and implement those ideas in my home state after returning from Netherlands. However, my hopes have been shattered.”

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