Leafspot outbreak brings to fore farmer-Agri officials disconnect

The leafspot outbreak in groundnut crop in integrated Vellore district has brought to the fore the total disconnect between the Agriculture Department and farmers, sources said.
Leafspot outbreak brings to fore farmer-Agri officials disconnect


Farmer leaders raised several concerns, including lack of any initiative or help from the department to avail the farmer-related schemes even as those affiliated to the Dravidian majors using their clout to get government largesse at the expense of the common farmers. “If agriculture survives in Vellore district, it is in spite of the Agriculture Department,” they said.
When asked, Tamilaga Vivasayigal Sangam integrated Vellore district secretary R Mullai said, “We have never seen any official seeking out farmers to provide them knowhow or the latest innovations.” When told that the department had started a training and visit system years ago under which a department official was to visit villages every week, all farmer leaders expressed surprise, stating that none had ever visited.
“Usually officials make a beeline for the Timiri, Kalavai and Kaveripakkam blocks, as these are areas with groundwater availability whereas the rest of the district suffers from water shortage. If asked why they visited only those places, they switch over to Alangayam,” Mullai added.
Palar AC Venketesan, another farmer leader, said, “I am yet to hear of any official visiting farmers for the latter’s benefit.” Stating that the government too usually turned a deaf ear to their genuine pleas, he said, “When groundnut crop reached the weeding stage, it was affected as the state announced the 100-day scheme resulting in even members from farmer families opting for it. This, along with untimely planting, was the reason for the outbreak.”
However, a senior farmer leader in Ranipet said, “This malaise in the department is due to many officials running agri input shops in their relatives’ names or undertaking farming themselves. Also, as they ensure they are transferred within a district, they are lackadaisical in solving farmer related issues. The situation can be solved if such officials are shifted to other districts.”

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