Phailin-hit mushroom farmers unlikely to get compensation

Mushroom growers of Ganjam district fear that they may not get any compensation for their losses during cyclone Phailin in October 2013.

Their fear is based on information they got from the office of the deputy director of horticulture in Berhampur through an application filed under Right to Information (RTI) Act. A mushroom grower of the district, B.Narasinga Rao had filed this RTI application to know the number of mushroom cultivators, who had been affected by Phailin.

In its submission of information under RTI Act, the office of the deputy director of horticulture mentioned that number mushroom cultivators affected during the cyclonewas not available in their office. Mr. Rao said it was ironical that the very department which should have kept track of mushroom cultivation and the farmers involved in it has not kept track of their losses during the cyclone. According to him, during disbursement of compensation for agricultural losses during Phalin, mushroom growers may not get any succour.

Members of Ganjam district unit of Odisha Mushroom Growers’ Federation (OMGF) had met Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik at Chatrapur during his visit to the district in December 2013 and handed over a memorandum. Through the memorandum they had alleged that although they were involved in agricultural production they were unable to avail agricultural loans at low interests.

They had added that although mushroom growers had suffered immense loss due to Phailin, they had not received any support from the government for restoration of their cultivation.

The mushroom growers say Ganjam district is in second place in mushroom production in the State. Before Phailin there were hundreds of mushroom cultivation units as well as 30 mushroom seed production centres in the district. They claim that around 4,000 youths of the district were involved in mushroom cultivation.

Phailin had completely devastated the infrastructure of mushroom cultivation in the district.

The mushroom growers alleged that after the cyclone they faced a financial crunch to restart cultivation. They were unable to avail any government assistance or loans at low interest from authorised financial institutions and were compelled to opt for personal investment or loans at high interest from private sources.

They continue to demand that they should also be eligible for agricultural loans and other benefits provided to peasants by the government.

They had demanded State government to declare some special package for Phailin cyclone hit mushroom growers.

Content Courtesy: The Hindu

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