Maharashtra may soon deploy drones to spray pesticides on locust swarms. A decision will be taken after considering the risks involved of spreading the chemicals’ toxicity into a wider area in the environment, said the state’s agriculture minister Dadaji Bhuse.
Bhuse was in the city to attend a meeting to review the availability of seeds and fertilizers for the coming Kharif sowing in Nagpur division.
Asked whether locust attack can be covered under the crop insurance policy, he said that has to be taken up by the Centre when fresh tenders are called. The phenomenon is new even for the government, he said.
Bhuse said, “drones are expected to come in a day. The spraying needs to be done from a certain height for which a specific model of drones are needed. The state government will first examine the likely contamination of other areas by the chemical,” said Bhuse.
“It may not take time to spray pesticides from a drone but it should not lead to a fresh problem later,” he said.
The agriculture department officials have been able to eliminate half of the locust that had entered Maharashtra by spraying pesticide chlorpyrifos. Yet, a couple of swarms are reported to remain. One was spotted in Saoner tehsil, he said.
Bhuse said there was a disparity in the number of beneficiaries under the Pradhan Mantri Kisan Samman Yojana and the actual amount sent to the state by the Centre. The scheme provides Rs 6000 to farmers having less than two hectares of land.
“The issue was taken up with the union agriculture minister Narendra Singh Tomar and it appears many farmers in the state who should have been otherwise eligible for the scheme are not covered yet,” said Bhuse.
Bhuse said this could be due to technical shortcomings in submitting their data. However, he added execution of the scheme has also slowed down from the Centre’s side. “It seems there is some bottleneck. Once the pandemic ends, the state government plans to conduct a drive and come up with a fresh list of eligible farmers and submit it to the center,” he said.
On the Mahatma Jyotiba Phule farm loan waiver scheme of MVA government, Bhuse said 30 lakh farmers have been found eligible. An amount Rs 12,000 crore has been credited into the loan accounts of 19 lakh farmers, he added.
The process for the remaining 11 lakh has been held up due to the Covid impact on finances. However, the state government has undertaken to pay up their entire liability on account of a delay from the state’s side once the situation normalizes. Talks are underway with RBI to enable such farmers to get fresh loans, he said.
(With inputs from timesofindia)