Millennium Post

Agriculture minister to visit districts affected by wheat blast

Kolkata: State Agriculture minister Asish Banerjee will visit Nadia and Murshidabad districts that was hit by the deadly Wheat blast disease in March this year. Banerjee along with additional Chief Secretary Sanjeev Chopra will take stock of the agricultural activities going on in the affected land after the state government had declared "Wheat Holiday" and banned cultivation of wheat in that land.
The deadly disease had destroyed wheat on 8000 acre land in the two districts with the fungus sneaking in from Bangladesh.
The farmers have started cultivating moong, masoor and khesari variety of pulses and some varieties of oilseeds crop like mustard,
sunflower and sesame as an alternative to wheat cultivation.
"We will see whether the distribution of oil seeds to the farmer has been properly carried out and will also speak to the farmers to ensure that they are not inconvenienced by any means," Banerjee said who will be visiting the two districts on November 2.
The minister assured that the khesari pulses that are being cultivated are of a new variety and is not at all detrimental for health.
The state government has already created a buffer zone in the border area to prevent the entry of any contaminated crop from the neighbouring country and has also banned wheat cultivation within five km from the Bangladesh border.
Apart from giving advisories to the farmers about the alternative crop that can be cultivated in the affected land, the government has already paid compensation to the affected farmers.
Jalangi, Domkal, Raninagar, Nawda and Hariharpara in Murshidabad and Tehatta, Karimpur and Chapra in Nadia were the places which were affected by this disease.
Wheat blast is one of the most fearsome and intractable wheat diseases in recent decades and is caused by the fungus Magnaporthe Oryzae. In April 2016, the fungus entered Asia for the first time, creating havoc in Bangladesh where crops of over 20,000 hectare in six districts had to be burnt.
Once infected, there is no way to "cure" the affected crop. It directly strikes the wheat ear and can shrivel and deform the grain in less than a week from when the first symptoms are noticed, leaving farmers with no time to act.

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