IMPHAL, July 18 – Contrary to the immediate demand of declaring drought in Manipur, the Manipur Government has decided to provide urea at subsidised rates besides monitoring the rainfall pattern and its status.
Though there is a report of onset of monsoon which is the lifeline of agriculture in the State, rains are deficient, impacting sowing of Kharif (summer) crops such as paddy and coarse cereals in Manipur.
“The government is closely monitoring the rainfall pattern and status in the State and will take further actions as necessary to support the farming community,” said an official press release here. The government decided to make available urea bags at Rs 278.80 per bag (against normal rate of Rs 478.80) by providing additional transport subsidy, it added.
But the government’s decision has evoked sharp reactions from the farming community who have been hit by the drought-like situation in the State. “Where to use the subsidised fertiliser when our rice fields are dry. It would be wise to use it in the fish farm,” a farmer from Naranseina village in Bishnupur district said.
More than 400 hectares of high land rainfed rice fields under Naranseina, Thingungei, Phubala and Ngangkhalawai area under Bishnupur district have been facing drought-like situation as monsoon plays hide and seek.
“We have no option to replace paddy cultivation with other suitable crops,” O Premkumar, who owns around two hectares of paddy field in Bishnupur district said. “We have no water source in this area. Even the lone stream (Erumbi river) which passes through our fields has also dried up.”
NT Singh, another farmer in Imphal East district, informed this reporter that if no rain occurs in the next few days then God knows what may happen to the crops.
Demanding immediate announcement of drought in the State, Manipur Loumi Lup (MLL), a farmers body has sought help to make small dams on the nearby rivers for irrigation purpose besides issuing water pump sets to the needy farmers.
Though the State recorded deficient rainfall of about 300 mm comparing to the previous year, some places in Senapati, Tamenglong and Ukhrul have reportedly received enough rain.
“Water is everywhere here. The farmers here are praying for the rain to stop. Landslides and mudslides are the bonus,” said a resident of Tamenglong district headquarter when contacted.