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Farmers deceived, again

Sentinel Digital DeskBy : Sentinel Digital Desk

  |  10 Aug 2015 12:00 AM GMT

The same sad story is playing itself out in village after village in Assam, of farmers in an agrarian state being taken for a ride repeatedly by the Agriculture department itself. Lately, many farmers are getting an unpleasant surprise while harvesting paddy, with the paddy ears containing little grain but lots of husk. They had planted hybrid paddy seeds introduced with much fanfare by the Agriculture department under its Momai Tamuli Borborua scheme. Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi had iugurated this scheme at Timtimia village in his constituency Titabor on 15 March this year, promising to return and partake of the ‘-khowa’ feast with rice grown from the seedlings he had planted. But members of the villagers self-help group were dismayed when they harvested quintals of husk with only a handful of paddy grains. They now allege that pests sucked the paddy ears dry, since the pesticide supplied by the Agriculture department was useless. State Agriculture Minister Rakibul Hussain has rushed to defend his department and cover up for the embarrassed Chief Minister. But in a piece of poetic justice, farmers in his own home district gaon are now complaining of being saddled with an empty harvest of grain-less paddy. They are threatening to dump sacks of husk at local Agriculture offices, seeking compensation for all the fertiliser, pumped water and other inputs they had invested in their fields. Lacking irrigation support totally, chagrined at pumpsets ordered for them being smuggled off to Bangladesh, provided with spurious lime, supplied with seeds that yield useless harvests — farmers in Assam are easy meat for corrupt Agriculture officials and conniving ministers, even as they hold up the State’s economy on their straining backs.

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