Mizoram farmers fear heavy losses post bamboo flowering

November 14th, 2007 - 1:51 am ICT by admin  
Popularly referred to as ‘poor man’s timber’, bamboo has been an integral part of Mizoram. ‘Manta’ or the gregarious bamboo flowering is a phenomenon that occurs once every 48 years,

In 1959, bamboo had flowered in this hilly outpost. Rats had feasted on the small green bamboo fruits, breeding in millions. When the fruit was exhausted, the rodents swept like a plague through paddy fields, leading to widespread food shortages.

Scientists say bamboo fruit bears a unique enzyme, which develops the fertility of rodents leading to an increase in their population.

According to an estimate by the State Agriculture Department, this would cause a loss of over 75 per cent of the crop this year.

Paddy and maize; and vegetables like cucumber, beans, and pumpkins have been affected.

“I cultivated quite a few lands. Unfortunately, due to “Manta” (gregarious bamboo flowering) rats started ravaging my crops prior to it ripening; and not much can be harvested this year. Besides, whatever we had harvested is almost over by now,” said B. Ramfangzawia, a farmer.

However, the officials are optimistic that the 19th century famine would not be repeated as the villages are better connected through roadways and with the help of State food aid.

“Only about three to four percent of the villages are unapproachable by road. The government will supply food to the farmers, who have lost their crop,” said James Lalsenliana, Plant Protection Officer, Directorate of Agriculture, Mizoram.

The State Government has also sought Central assistance to cope up with the situation.

“I hope it will not be as severe as the earlier one (the one in 1959). The Central Government will have to help us in providing them (the farmers) food,” said Lalsenliana.

Nearly 90,000 families in the State are entirely dependent on agriculture. (ANI)

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