Odishatv Bureau

New Delhi: In order to assess the situation following pest attack on crops in Odisha, a central team comprising top agriculture experts will visit the affected areas in the State on November 12.

The team headed by Union Minister of State for Agriculture, Gajendra Singh Shekhawat will visit worst-hit Bargarh district first followed by other affected areas. The team will also hold discussions with Odisha government over remedial measures to prevent pest attack, informed Union Minister Dharmendra Pradhan after discussing the issue with Union Agriculture Minister Radha Mohan Singh in Delhi today.

"The Centre seeks cooperation from State government to assist the farmers in such a precarious situation. We want to keep the farmers' issues above politics," Pradhan said.

Meanwhile, Minister Radha Mohan Singh lambasted Odisha government for not adhering to the guidelines on application of pesticides issued by Central Rice Research Institute (CRRI) of Cuttack.

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"Pest menace could have been prevented if the State government paid a little heed to the instructions of CRRI which had issued advisory on October 4 and 5. Other State like Punjab, acted promptly on CRRI directive," Singh said.

He further claimed the Centre had sanctioned Rs 53 crore to Odisha along with funds to provide seeds, pesticides to farmers at subsidised rate. But, the State managed to spend only Rs 1.98 lakh, he alleged.