Rodents cause famine like situation in Mizoram

May 25th, 2008 - 11:37 am ICT by admin  

By Sujit Chakraborty
Aizawl, May 25 (IANS) A famine like situation has gripped Mizoram with over half a million people affected following the flowering of bamboo and subsequent increase in rodent population. “Even though the state is reeling under the grip of famine, there is no starvation death,” said R. Lalthangliana, the forest and environment minister.

This natural phenomenon occurs after 48 to 50 years and leads to the destruction of crops by rodents and other insects attracted by the bamboo flowers. Rodents multiply rapidly after eating the protein-rich seeds that appear soon after bamboo flowering.

“The government is distributing paddy seeds free of cost to farmers across the state as a majority of the cultivators have lost all their crops due to gregarious bamboo flowering,” Lalthangliana told IANS.

The farmers in the landlocked state lost around 80 percent of their harvest as armies of rodents ravaged paddy fields and destroyed most of the harvest, including horticultural crops, in the past one year.

The seven states of the northeast region received about Rs.380 million from the central government to tackle the problems after gregarious flowering on ‘Muli Bamboo’.

Mizoram received the maximum amount of Rs.198.30 million followed by Tripura (Rs.176.10 million).

Mizoram experienced a devastating famine in 1959 when bamboo flowering led to a multiplication of rodents. The famine ultimately triggered an armed movement by the Mizo National Front (MNF).

In 1959, the famine killed at least 100 people, besides causing heavy loss to crops.

With an area of 21,087 sq km, the state has 20 bamboo species in the grove covering 1,254,400 hectares, contributing 14 percent of all the bamboo produced in India.

Mizoram recorded a famine in 1862 and again in 1911 after the state witnessed similar bamboo flowerings.

With a population of about one million, Mizoram has taken up an emergency plan to stock rice ahead of monsoon in the wake of the food crisis.

According to Lalthangliana, the government has formed a high level task force headed by the chief minister to deal with the prevailing situation.

“The government is providing rural employment and food to the affected people,” he said.

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