Most of the agricultural fields in the periphery of the valley area was wasted this Kharif season as a result of the ongoing ethnic clashes and frequent attacks on agricultural workers and labour from the surrounding hills. Even with security measures being taken up by the government, in most places the fear of injury and death is there. Again, security was given in only a few places while the hype of security was more in the social media. Reports from the ground say, most of the field close to the hills have been left uncultivated. Again, in many parts of the state except for some pockets the fields were barren and except for those with surplus grain from last year’s harvest, the poor and landless farmers were hit the hardest. Bereft of timely rain and fertilizer besides lack of irrigation water, the fields were full of cracks. Yet, the state remained oblivious to the impending catastrophe as the granaries of the poor farmers were empty and nothing to show for the hard labour they had put in the paddy fields. The state government was heard appealing to farmers to put in maximum efforts to increase rice production as the state government had taken a decision to buy paddy directly from the farmers at a reasonable price fixed by the government. No doubt, it was a good decision, if it was implemented in action. In the chaos of the unrest, the government ministers and top bureaucrats seems to have forgotten about it. In the last few years, the price of paddy and local rice had fallen to such a level that poor farmers were struggling to make ends meet, while grocery shops had even stopped stocking Meitei Cheng. As Covid 19 entered the scene and the Narendra Modi government was flooding the country with free rice. Suddenly, paddy cultivation became a bad investment both for the poor landless farmers and the landholders. In such a situation, the state government’s initiative to buy up surplus paddy from farmers at Minimum Support Price (MSP) was a welcome move. The future of agriculture had become bleaker in the absence of a sound state agriculture policy coupled with the new challenges brought forth by the impact of climate change. The reasons given are lack of adequate rainfall in time, unprecedented rise in temperature and of course the chaos in distribution of fertilizers. This pattern has been going on for the last few years and paddy cultivation is becoming a losing pursuit on account of high cost of production and no remunerative price. The present trend of declining profitability together with higher cost of new technology and a degree of uncertainty, in both price and productivity, meant that farmers had to bear tremendous risks in agriculture. High yield rate, high cost of production and low profitability is the present scenario of agricultural enterprise in the state. We also appreciate the efforts of the state government to save paddy land and check the unwarranted use of paddy fields for non-agriculture purposes. An appeal was made to stop constructions of structures in paddy fields and warned of legal action against violators of the Conservation of Paddy Land and Wetlands Act, 2014. There is a need to take up measures to restore Manipur’s natural farming system, provide irrigation facilities for farmers on a war footing and investigate the failure of irrigation canals in Manipur, formulate a water policy and rejuvenate all traditional water bodies in Manipur, to declare Manipur an organised state by 2024, formulate a farmer’s Agricultural Market Policy in the morning, protection and preservation of all arable and agricultural land, framing policy for land use. It also called for ensuring the best utilisation of land in both hills and valleys of the state, establishing facility to preserve indigenous and traditional seeds, allocate more fund in agricultural, horticulture, veterinary and fisheries, minor irrigation and address the impacts of climate change on indigenous agricultural and the increased patterns of disaster such as drought and flood in Manipur.
On the agriculture front
The future of agriculture had become bleaker in the absence of a sound state agriculture policy coupled with the new challenges brought forth by the impact of climate change.
Updated 27 Dec 2023, 9:57 am
First published:27 Dec 2023, 9:57 am