Agriculture Ministry denies farmers’ claims
Said, about 194 watermelon growers have been compensated for losses due to the moth pest; Farmers claim the amount paid is too low
MARGAO: The Department of Agriculture, refuting claims on Tuesday by farmers practicing watermelon cultivation in and around Verna, said about 194 farmers had been compensated for the loss of watermelon cultivation due to the crustworm infestation in 2020-21.
However, the farmers further claimed that the mere amount of Rs 4,000 to 5,000 is nothing compared to their losses incurred, which were between Rs 30,000 and Rs 80,000.
Apparently a few days ago Herald highlighted the issue, where several farmers in Verna and surrounding areas alleged that the government had failed to pay them the compensation.
It is pertinent to note that a large number of farmers in Verna, Nagao, Majorda and Utorda are engaged in the seasonal cultivation of watermelon, which is the sole source of income for these farmers.
In 2020, a sudden outbreak of a rare type of disease in watermelons had left more than hundreds of farmers in Verna and surrounding areas in financial crises as farmland was impacted due to the infestation of the ringworm. Large tracts of land cultivated by these farmers organically have been ravaged by this moth, which further resulted in the loss of thousands of rupees for each of the farmers. This continued into 2021.
Reacting to the question, Shariff AX Furtado, Zonal Agriculture Officer, said about 194 cases in Nuvem constituency had already been resolved by the department under the Shetkari Adhar Nidhi program.
“The watermelon losses in Verna fall under the Nuvem constituency and can be considered a disease outbreak. If a farmer’s name is not mentioned, it either means that he did not apply or his application was rejected for not having the Krishi Card,” Furtado said.
He added that most of the compensation was deposited in the claimants’ bank accounts.
On Tuesday, When Herald visited a few farmers in Verna again, they confirmed that they had received the compensation, but at the same time they were upset with the mere amount awarded by the government, which they say is a formality of name.
“Yes, I received Rs. 4,000 in compensation for the loss of Rs. 50,000. My total crop of watermelons was damaged due to the worm. The compensation is just a joke, and nothing else “said the farmer.