Bhubaneswar, August 28 (LocalWire): Kharif paddy crop in 1.28 lakh hectares, particularly in western Odisha, was destroyed due to Brown Plant Hopper attack during 2017-18 causing immense loss to farmers.
The menace returned to haunt the farmers the next year as well, but the damage was limited to only 10,500 hectares, reducing the quantum of loss by a huge margin with help from final year B.Sc (Agriculture) students of the Odisha University of Agriculture and Technology (OUAT).
The state government deployed the students who visited 57 blocks affected by pests and interacted with the farmers.
They trained them in methods of applying pesticides and other agricultural procedures helping them make the turn-around possible.
The decision to send out the agri students to the fields to teach and guide the farmers as well as send the feed back to the government had worked wonders, Dr M Muthukumar, the director, Agriculture and Food Production, said today.
‘It has been a great achievement for students and the government,’ he said while speaking at the training session of the second batch of ‘Krushi Unnat Sahjogi’ (agricultural development associates) at the SOA Deemed to be University here.
The training programme was attended by final year B.Sc. (Agriculture) students from SOA and Centurion University who are slated to visit the identified blocks for a period of two months from 1 September to interact with farmers and send their feedback to the agriculture and farmers’ empowerment department from the field.
‘This year around 490 agriculture students are involved in the programme which will be part of their innovative two-month internship,’ Dr Muthukumar said adding Odisha was the first state in the country to provide opportunity to agriculture students for such internship while implementing the innovative programme.
The students will be provided mobile apps to keep in touch with the officials of the agriculture and farmers’ empowerment department, he said.
‘Your feedback is of great importance to the government as it would go a long way in framing policies for agriculture and the farming community,’ he said.
Prof. Amit Banerjee, vice-Chancellor of SOA Deemed to be University, Dr. Laxmidhar Swain representing Centurion University, Mr Bijoy Bhushan Patnaik, deputy director (plant protection) of the Agriculture department and Dr. Bijoy Kumar Sahu, dean of Institute of Agricultural Sciences, SOA’s faculty of agriculture, also addressed the gathering.
During the two month period, the students would make the farmers familiar in several areas including safe usage of pesticides, pest surveillance, fertilizer availability, cotton cultivation, marketing of product and the various government programmes for farmers, he said.
Prof. Banerjee told the students that they should feel privileged as they would be part of governance as associates of the government.
Pointing out that agriculture was the backbone of the country, he said the agriculture students had the responsibility to strengthen farming by empowering farmers who repeatedly faced the ravages of nature.
SOA, Prof. Banerjee said, had been able to help farmers by correctly predicting possible thunderstorms and lightning through its Centre for Environment and Climate (CEC), a research centre, set up by the university.
This, he said, had considerably reduced the number of deaths caused by lightning.