Home » Manipur Agriculture Dept. to compensate farmers affected by ethnic violence with a Rs. 38.06 Cr package

Manipur Agriculture Dept. to compensate farmers affected by ethnic violence with a Rs. 38.06 Cr package

by Konthoujam Gita
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Manipur Agriculture Dept. to compensate farmers affected by ethnic violence with a Rs. 38.06 Cr package

Five months since Manipur descends into a spiral of conflict, coupled with inadequate rainfall pointing to the probability of crop failure, food insecurity and a threat to the livelihood of the people of the restive state, the state agriculture department comes up with a crop compensation package as relief for the ethnic violence affected farmers to the tune of Rs. 38.06 Cr.
An independent survey conducted by Loumee Shinmee Apunba Lup (LOUSAL), a farmers’ body, claimed that a total area of around 9,719 hectares (Ha) of paddy fields in the valley could be facing crop failure as farmers are afraid to go into the fields because of sporadic firing by the armed miscreants from the lower foothills.
It is estimated that the total income loss for the state in the agricultural sector this year could be around Rs. 226.50 crore. Of this, the highest loss will be in rice production to the extent of Rs 211.41 crores which accounts for 93.36% of total agriculture and allied activities followed by livestock farming.
Of the five crisis hit valley districts, Bishnupur, Imphal East, Imphal West, Kakching and Thoubal, Bishnupur district is the worst affected in terms of agricultural land area comprising 5,288 Ha, constituting 54.4% of the total land area of 9,718 Ha followed by Imphal East with 1770 Ha and Imphal West respectively, as per the report.
Bishnupur district, which shares boundary with Churachandpur, has been one of the most vulnerable districts. Farmers of Phubala, Sunusiphai, Naranseina, Khoirentak, Kumbi, Sagang, Torbung, Wangoo and Khoijuman Khunou are among the worst hit, and some of them have even sustained bullet injuries.
A team of LOUSAL led by its president, Mutum Churamani, who had come to take stock of the situation at Phubala said, “the current situation is such that our farmers are back to square one. Despite the security arrangements, they fear to venture out to the fields to take care of the paddy plants.”
Churamani informed that since the beginning of violence in May, the farmers were uncertain of going to the fields as they are located mostly near the foothills, wherefrom intermittent firing takes place. “By July, with security arrangements, we somehow managed to send our farmers to initiate tilling and prepare for sowing, he said, adding to that end a state level monitoring committee was formed.”
It may be mentioned that the state level monitoring committee to mitigate the crisis in the farm sector was formed under the initiative of the state government authorities such as the Commissioner and Director of the Agriculture department, along with five other farmers’ bodies. Following the advice of the committee, the Manipur government started providing security cover to protect farmers during the monsoon kharif season for agricultural work. For the purpose, 2000 security personnel had been diverted by downgrading VIP security cover with district commissioners of affected districts appealing to farming community not to venture out for farming activities without security arrangement considering the volatile situation.
( Oinam Brajalala, a farmer from Naransaina, said that security forces deployed at the foothills have denied access to the paddy fields located above the high canal.( ( “They have declared the area as ‘red zone’. We are not certain if we would be able to harvest however little paddy we have grown. The water for irrigation has been diverted away by miscreants. Without water, how is it possible? We never know when they will stop firing towards the field from their bunkers”, he added.
Demanding adequate crop compensation from the government over the impending loss, Brajalala continued that daily wage labourers will also be hard hit if there is no harvesting. “Most of us are tenant farmers, we will be under huge debt. What have we come to? We can’t even send our cattle to graze in the fields,” he rued.
Agriculture commissioner government of Manipur, R.K. Dinesh Singh while commending LOUSAL for conducting an independent survey and for serving as a bridge between the farmers and the department, maintained that the agriculture department in order to mitigate the current crisis, has already swung into action and approached the ministry of home affairs for funding a crop compensation package as relief for affected farmers whose livelihoods are threatened by the ethnic violence.
“The department has proposed to the Ministry of Home Affairs for a package of Rs. 38.06 crore as crop compensation. The good news is that the proposal has been accepted by the Ministry. Our priority is to speed up the process of releasing the relief package to the affected farmers as soon as possible, at least by the month of November,” R.K. Dinesh said.
Admitting that there will be divergence regarding the data of crisis affected paddy-fields between the one prepared by the government and farmers’ body depending on the time of the survey, methodology employed for estimating the crop yield loss as well as the changing dynamics of the current crisis, the agriculture commissioner reiterated that the government’s priority is speedy financial relief for the affected farmers.
Funded wholly by the ministry of home affairs, government of India, the compensation package, totally Rs. 38.06 crores will cover for the 5127.08 Ha of severely affected agricultural areas identified in June by the agriculture department as “areas likely to remain uncultivated due to present (ethnic violence) situation”, including 539 Ha in Imphal West, 633 Ha in Imphal East, 37 Ha in Jiribam, 597.83 in Senapati, 581 Ha in Thoubal, 273.35 Ha in Chandel, 2191 Ha in Bishnupur and 275 Ha in Churachandpur.
The agriculture commissioner, R.K. Dinesh revealed that the estimated loss for the 5127.08 Ha is calculated as Rs. 38.06 Cr. using average crop yield for the affected districts for the last three years and areas where cultivation may not be possible. He also pointed out that the final numbers of farmers to the compensated will be subjected to verification of the affected farmers being conducted by the Deputy Commissioners of the affected districts.
Beside the current violence, inadequate rainfall has worsened the crisis and Imphal East district is the worst hit, which has around 21, 630 Ha of arable land, the second largest in the valley. A farmer from Sabam Lamyai village confided that he had tried sowing paddy seeds five consecutive times but failed.
“Due to scanty rain, and over and above abject failure of the irrigation system, farmers like us are completely helpless this year. The agriculture department gave us fertilizers a month back. What’s the use if there’s no water in the field”, he pointed out.
Asked on how the agriculture department proposed to deal with water scarcity, the commissioner admitted that it has been a major concern with the global climate crisis and the state farmers’ dependence on monsoon rain. He maintained that it would involve both short and long term actions to address the concerns like adoption of different irrigation methods such as digging ponds, tube well, canal river lift irrigation etc.
“Areas under proper irrigation are very little. We are trying to increase the area of irrigated land as a long-term plan by introducing tube wells and water ponds. For that purpose, our scheme funds have been enhanced by Rs. 70 crores through the Central Ministry”, RK Dinesh said and added that as a short-term plan alternative Rabi crop would also be introduced to the farmers soon.

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