Govt to probe supply of substandard seeds

Bhubaneswar: Admitting gross mismanagement in agriculture department, state government on Thursday said it would set up a high-level inquiry into the supply of alleged fake seeds and pulse kits to farmers during the rabi crop season.

Mismanagement in the agriculture department was admitted by its minister Damodar Rout while replying to an adjournment motion debate. "There is gross mismanagement in the department and I am trying to bring reform in it. Give me some time and cooperation to improve situation in agriculture department," Rout said.

Participating in the debate, the opposition members alleged that the state government betrayed the farmers community by supplying them bad quality seeds and pulse kits during the rabi crop.

"There is kickback in the supply of pulse kits to farmers," said Congress chief whip Prasad Harichandan adding that mung dal cultivation over a large area had been affected due to supply of bad quality seeds and pesticides.

Harichandan`s claim was supported by many ruling party MLAs who too pointed out that farmers faced a lot of trouble by using seeds and pulse kits supplied by the government.

"I am a farmer. The seeds supplied by the government did not bear any fruit. Therefore, I sustained a huge loss.

Similar is the fate of thousands of farmers across the state," said BJD MLA Pradeep Maharathy.

Though the minister had cautioned the department not to supply such seeds, his orders were not carried out by officers, Maharathy alleged.

Other ruling party members also supported Maharathy and demanded an inquiry into supply of bad quality seeds and kits to farmers.

Agreeing with the members, the minister said, "The government is aware of crop loss due to yellow vein mosaic, a disease in mung dal plant."

Of the 4,87,480 hectares of mung dal cultivation, yellow vein mosaic infection had been identified in 10,598 hectares, the minister said adding that pulses were cultivated in total of 12 lakh hectare of land during this rabi season.

The minister also said that the government would consider the proposal of giving compensation to affected farmers.