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Home > News > PTI

Mizoram faces famine due to rodent invasion

September 14, 2007 15:12 IST

Mizoram might face a famine this year due to a projected 75 per cent crop loss caused by rodent invasion.

According to the state's Agriculture Department, Mautam or famine caused by gregarious bamboo flowering is affecting Mizoram and at least 6,683 hectares of jhum land has been ravaged by rats in seven districts.

More reports of devastation were pouring in from remote areas, said James Lalsiamliana, an agriculture scientist. Over 10,000 families were affected by the destruction, Lalsiamliana said.

"We can assume that there will be complete crop failure as far as the early paddy variety is concerned. Majority of the farmers lost their paddy before harvest," he said.

Maize harvest was a complete failure in most of the areas as armies of rats ate the crop before harvest. Other crops like watermelon and cucumber too were affected by the rodent infestation.

The melocanna baccifera species, comprising 95 per cent of bamboo plants in the state, began to flower in 2006. Mautam is a phenomenon that occurs in Mizoram every 48 years in which the flowering of the melocanna baccifera is invariably followed by an increase in the population of rats.

The state government encourages the cultivation of alternate crops like potato and turmeric to mitigate the impact of Mautam.

After flowering, the bamboo dies and regenerates from the seeds. The rodents then feast on these seeds, which are available in plenty. Once the rats exhaust this temporary food supply, they turn their attention to cultivated crops and cause famine.

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