Mizoram loses 7,603 ha of cultivations to rodent menace

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Aizawl, Oct 5 (UNI) The state Agriculture department assessed the total damage to cultivable land due to Mautam to be at least 7,603 hectares.

Mautam is a gregarious flowering of bamboo plants, a catastrophe, which occurs every 48-50 years, the last incidence being 1958-60.

A meeting headed by Agriculture director Bhattacharjee today looked into the reports received from the eight districts of Mizoram and laid out measures to prevent larger damage. Of the eight districts, Lawngtlai had been worst-hit with 1,397 hectares of rice cultivation having been lost to rodent attacks, which are 85.1 per cent of the total agricultural lands. These belonged to 16 villages.

As preventive measure, the Agriculture officers' meeting advised mass poisoning of rats under the supervision of Agriculture officials. They also suggested plugging of rat holes with Celphos, and offered incentive awards to encourage killing of rats with traps. The Agriculture officers also recommended spraying of paddies with brine/salt solution for early harvest of rice and cultivation of winter crops.

Meanwhile, the first ever three-day Mizoram Bamboo Festival was kickstarted at Berawtlang tourist complex here yesterday by Environment and Forest minister.

He appreciated the Tourism and Environment and Forest departments' joint efforts in organising the first ever bamboo festival to promote tourism and the usefulness of bamboo and bamboo products, adding that bamboo could be a good source of income for Mizoram.

''Understanding the usefulness of bamboo, the Centre has set up a Bamboo Mission, comprising seven Union ministers and four state ministers, including me,'' he said. Tourism minister Z H Ropuia informed that Bamboo Festival has been organised after the Centre told us to create one more festival after Anthurium Festival and other traditional festivals.

During the three-day festival, one can see and participate in the various traditional dances and singing, where cultural troupes from interior areas will perform. A mini concert of sorts will conclude each festival day, where people can enjoy folk and contemporary music. There is exhibition-cum-sale of different handicrafts and handloom.

Food courts offering different cuisines and competitions in traditional games such as catapult shooting and stilt-walking are also part of the festival. A fashion show displaying traditional Mizo handloom will also be held, which promises to be different and eye-catching.

The Horticulture department is displaying major fruits and flowers which Mizoram is well known for such as anthurium, rose, papaya, squash, capsicum, tomato and passion fruit. It also conducts demonstration and training on ginger ale, ginger candy and passion fruit juice. On a more serious note, a workshop on 'Bamboo - The Ultimate Resource for Prosperity' will be organised by the Environment and Forest department, which it hopes will spread awareness about the prospects of bamboo.

The department will also organise a bamboo seedling show as well as display specimens of the various bamboo varieties found in Mizoram.

UNI

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