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Farmers on the warpath

IFP Editorial: Farmers are already talking about a bad harvest this year and the reasons given are lack of adequate rainfall in time, unprecedented rise in temperature and of course the chaos in distribution of fertilisers.

ByIFP Bureau

Updated 24 Aug 2022, 5:26 am

(PHOTO: IFP)
(PHOTO: IFP)

The other day, a rather comely lady recently turned firebrand leader went full throttle against the Agriculture department regarding the scarcity of fertiliser in her area. She is none other than Zilla Parishad member of Potsangbam and Up-Adakshya of Imphal West L Boby, who is also a grassroots leader of BJP, the ruling party.

The video clips aired in the local news channels went viral in the social media. She even threatened to impose a bandh, blockade on the National Highway, if the department does not make fertiliser available in her area in time.

On the other hand, the Agriculture department and its minister had been repeatedly claiming that there is no shortage of fertilisers and there is enough stock in state godowns, as if fertiliser scarcity is a myth. People really like to believe what the handsome Minister Th Bishwajit says. But, farmers on the ground are saying otherwise.

Up-Adakshya Boby is not alone in bringing up the issue of scarcity of fertiliser in the time of need.

Farmer collectives from Moirang and Bishnupur have also decried the artificial scarcity of fertilisers and some groups have also threatened to block the Tiddim highway. Besides shortage of Urea, there is the problem of insufficient rainfall and lack of irrigation facilities.

No doubt, the government under the leadership of Chief Minister N Biren Singh and Agriculture Minister Th Bishwajit must be trying hard to solve these problems. Tragedy is that, farmers in general are not getting the goods for a good harvest.

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Recently, Agriculture Minister Th Biswajit Singh said that the government will adopt a new mechanism with Aadhaar Seeding for each farmer in the next Kharif season so that the fertilisers can be made available abundantly at the time of need and issues can be solved. Yet, he did not spell out how such a system is going to solve the problem.

While the total allocation of urea for kharif 2022 is 22,000 MT, the total quantity of urea transported to the state so far is 11,634.84 MT only. In the last few years, the state agriculture department had been experimenting with new mechanisms of fertiliser distribution without much success and the bulk of fertilisers always managed to find its way to the makeshift godowns of local MLAs. And thus, politics take control.

There were even reports of some MLAs denying fertilisers to the supporters of their rivals. The future of agriculture has become bleaker in the absence of a sound state agriculture policy coupled with the new challenges brought forth by the impact of climate change.

Farmers are already talking about a bad harvest this year and the reasons given are lack of adequate rainfall in time, unprecedented rise in temperature and of course the chaos in distribution of fertilisers.

In view of the recent changes in rainfall patterns and heat waves, the policy planners in the state and experts need to put their heads together to evolve a sound agricultural policy as we cannot leave our farmers and agricultural activities to the mercy of erratic weather and unpredictable seasonal rains.

ALSO READ: Disproportionate use of synthetic fertilisers damaging soil health in state

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The state needs to develop a comprehensive water policy and this needs to be incorporated while framing an agriculture policy specific to Manipur. First, one needs to highlight the ever-widening gap between demand and water sources while taking into account the erratic rainfall patterns.

Farmers cite construction of dams, deforestation at catchment areas, and quarrying among others as the main cause for the drying up of the small rivers and tributaries.

Manipur has been facing a monsoon rain deficit of about 60 per cent and receiving an annual rainfall of 1600 mm only. It is not only the case of rainfall deficit when farmers want it, in recent times rainfall patterns have become so erratic that farmers can no longer depend on it. Manipur’s soil had long been known for its fertility and distinctive flavour in agricultural produce be it in rice or vegetables.

Now, that has become a thing of the past and the soil has become quite addictive to chemical fertilisers and it will take a long process and time to revert to organic farming and bio-fertilisers. For the present, the state government needs a policy where fertilisers reach the farmers in time and adequately without any hassles. 

EDITORIAL

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First published:

Tags:

climate changeureamanipur farmersfertiliser shortageshortage of Urea

IFP Bureau

IFP Bureau

IMPHAL, Manipur

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