BHUBANESWAR: With reports of pest attack on standing paddy crops streaming in from some pockets of western Odisha districts, the State Government has mobilised students of Odisha University of Agriculture and Technology ( OUAT) to control the menace.
The Agriculture and Farmers Empowerment department has launched ‘Fasal Surakhya Abhiyaan’, a programme under which ‘Pest Scouts’ have been deployed in the affected areas. As many as 120 final year students of OUAT have been mobilised as ‘Pest Scouts’ and deployed in the identified blocks where crops were affected by pest attack. They will be paid normal stipend to cover their expenses and are expected to stay in the affected areas for 30 to 45 days, depending on the situation, official sources said.
One or two students will be deployed in a block and attached with the Assistant Agriculture Officer (AAO). The students will take up pest surveillance work in coordination with field staff and submit the data to the AAO. They will also give advice to the farmers based on pest advisory released by OUAT.
Meanwhile, principal secretary of Agriculture department Sourabh Garg has written to all district collectors to instruct block development officers and tehsildars to assist the students in availing suitable accommodation, preferably in the block headquarters.
The ‘Fasal Surakhya Abhiyaan’ was launched after questions were raised over the efficacy of the e-pest surveillance system following large-scale pest attack on paddy crops in several districts last year.