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Crop failure leads to food scarcity in Manipur district

Over 10,000 people,all tribal inhabitants of Phungyar subdivision in Manipur’s Ukhrul district...

Written by Samudra Gupta Kashyap | Guwahati |
June 10, 2009 12:16:28 am

Over 10,000 people,all tribal inhabitants of Phungyar subdivision in Manipur’s Ukhrul district,predominantly inhabited by the Tangkhul tribe,are facing a severe food scarcity following a crop failure caused by scanty rains coupled with a grasshopper invasion.

“With their granaries empty,villagers are now selling bananas and other vegetables in the faraway urban centres of Phungyar and Ukhrul to buy rice,” N Soringam,secretary of the Kumram village association was quoted as having said. Reports from Imphal said things are so bad that some villagers have stopped sending their children to school.

Ukhrul Deputy Commissioner Ashok Kumar said anywhere between 20 and 25 villages have been hit by the crisis. “It was basically because of delayed rains last season that the jhum cultivation failed in the area,” Kumar said over the telephone from Ukhrul.

While the villagers did begin a late jhum (slash-and-burn) cultivation,a massive grasshopper invasion almost wiped out whatever little was up. Some of the worst-affected villages are Aleng,Sorde,Sorathel,Nongmen,Kumram,Patbung,Sorbun and Phungyar. “We are trying to bring as much rice as possible under the public distribution system. But since the existing PDS network covers only about 40 per cent of the population,we are looking at making more work available under the NREGS,” the DC said.

However,reports from Imphal,quoting Tangkhul Youth Council chief Zameyo Verm,said some groups were taking away some percentage of payments made available under NREGS. “Luckily,rains began on time this year. We are trying to get extra quota of rice under PDS till fresh crops are ready,” the DC added.

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