Mautam rats are hard to beat: Agri officials

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Aizawl, Oct 30 (UNI) Despite many preventive measures taken against Mautam, rodents and pests proliferated due to cyclic bamboo flowering like half a century ago, Mizoram Government' agriculture office said today.

''Rats and pests which appeared early this year destroyed some 945.90 hactares of croplands belonging to 1917 families of 22 villages in Aizawl district in the first phase attack,'' a statement released by the agriculture department said.

In past two months from August, rats and pests started attacking rice, leaving thousands of farmers with a bleak future, official sources said.

According to a governmental data, rice harvest at 66 villages in Aizawl district has fallen by 70-80 per cent while many farmers have nothing to spare for seeds for the next year. ''These farmers are praying that the Government provide them with food grains for sowing in the next year,'' the report said.

So far some 2210 hectares of rice cultivations belonging to 3403 families have been lost to rodent attacks. Ten jhums and two wet rice cultivations in North Lungpher, Keifang and Sawleng villages fenced with nets were spared by rodents and pests, the agriculture officials said.

Rat traps were also laid in the fencing which proved to be a great help with not less than ten catches each night, they said.

Plant protection squad from the department of agriculture office managed to capture rats attacking standing crops in a video camera, which is claimed to be a record in Mizoram.

''Phulrua (a variety of bamboo) is presently beginning to flower in different parts of Mizoram, the DAO's statement said, emphasising the need to fell the bamboos before their full bloom. It also stated that a technical team under the DAO has spent a total of 15 nights in the jungle since last July to study the activities of Mautam-related rodents.

Meanwhile, the Aizawl DAO has bought 1,300 rats' tails under the money-for-rats' tails policy, which will be cremated in the presence of NGO and media representatives on October 31. However, the rats' tails have been purchased in credit system after any fund is yet to be allocated for the scheme.

UNI

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