‘Rice blast’ worries Pulwama farmers

‘Rice blast’ worries Pulwama farmers
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Pulwama: Due to prevailing ‘rice blast’ disease, many farmers in this south Kashmir district are worried after sustaining losses in harvesting the crop this year.
The farmers accuse government for negligence while claiming that no step was taken to tackle neither the disease with scientific means nor any departmental consultation was given to the farmers.
The villages where farmers faced losses due to the breakout of the disease were Litter, Panzgam, Rakh, Zahidbagh, Niloora, Allaiepora, Nowpora, Lassipora, Kakapora, Newa, Ratnipora of Pulwama district.
The disease has also affected the crops in Nahir, Khasipora and Chatrogam areas of Tral.
Bilal Ahmad, a resident of Alliepora village said that they have suffered heavy losses. “There was more than 50 percent decline in production as the ‘rice blast’ disease has tendency to reduce production,” he said while demanding compensation from the government.
Bashir Ahmad Lone, another farmer said that they many a times brought the issue in notice of the concerned department and asked them for conducting soil testing. “None of our demands have been fulfilled yet,” he said.
The farmers alleged that even the crop varieties provided by agriculture department get affected by this disease.
They informed that besides agriculture, they have no secondary means of income to feed their families.
While demanding removal of brick kilns in their area, the farmers said that a dozen brick kilns were working in the Lasipora belt of the district, creating a massive pollution. “These brick kilns were largely responsible for the damages in crops and breakout of diseases,” they said.
The farmers demanded compensation from the government for the losses which they suffered due to the disease.
Chief Agriculture Officer (CAO) Pulwama, Mohammad Yousuf Shah said that rice blast affects the old varieties of paddy only and the varieties provided by the department have given bumper crop this year and that too without any kind of disease.
“Farmers must work in cooperation with the department so that this disease can be eradicated once for all,” he said, admitting brick kilns are affecting the environment and the crops as well.