Imphal, October 1 (IANS) The Union Home Ministry (MHA) following a proposal of Manipur Agriculture Department to provide crop compensation package for the ethnic violence affected farmers, sanctioned Rs 38.06 crore, officials said on Sunday.
Agriculture Department Commissioner R.K. Dinesh Singh said that the Department had earlier proposed to the MHA for a package of Rs 38.06 crore as crop compensation for the violence hit farmer and the union ministry accepted the proposal and sanctioned the fund.
“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,” he told the media.
Another Agriculture Department official said that five months since Manipur descends into a spiral of conflict, coupled with inadequate rainfall during monsoon 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 submitted the crop compensation package to the MHA to provide a financial support to the violence hit farmers.
An independent survey conducted by Loumee Shinmee Apunba Lup (LOUSAL), a farmers’ body, claimed that a total area of around 9,719 hectares 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 attackers from the lower foothills.
Officials said that it was 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 would be in rice production to the extent of Rs 211.41 crores which accounts for 93.36 per cent of total agriculture and allied activities followed by livestock farming.
Of the five crisis hit valley districts -- Imphal East, Imphal West, Kakching Thoubal and Bishnupur -- are the worst affected in terms of agricultural land area comprising 5,288 hectares, constituting 54.4 per cent of the total land area of 9,719 hectares.
Bishnupur district, which shares a boundary with Churachandpur, has been one of the most vulnerable districts.
A team of LOUSAL led by its President, Mutum Churamani, who had come to take stock of the situation at Phubala village in Bishnupur district 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.”
He said that since the beginning of violence in May, the farmers were scared of going to the fields as they are located mostly near the foothills, wherefrom intermittent firing takes place.
In July, with security arrangements, farmers somehow managed to initiate tilling and prepare for sowing, he said, adding that a state level monitoring committee was also formed by the state government to deal with the problem.
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, by downgrading VVIP security cover, around 2000 security personnel had been deployed in the affected districts and requested the farming community not to venture out for farming activities without security arrangement considering the volatile situation.
Agriculture Department Commissioner Singh said that 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,” Singh said and added that as a short-term plan alternative Rabi crop would also be introduced to the farmers soon.”
Beside the current violence, inadequate rainfall has worsened the crisis and Imphal East district is the worst hit, which has around 21, 630 hectares of arable land, the second largest in the valley.
A farmer from Sabam Lamyai village said: “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 fertilisers a month back. What’s the use if there’s no water in the field?”