AIZAWL: The Mizoram government is making massive efforts to control the increasing rodent population to avoid famine in the state, an official of state agriculture department said.

The department director James Lalsiamliana said that more than 572 hectares of paddy field in 9 of the eleven districts in Mizoram have been currently affected by rodent attacks.

He said that a total of 114 villages in Mizoram and several families have so far been affected by the infestation that begun from around August due to the flowering of a bamboo species called ‘Rawnal’ (Dendrocalamus).

The rodent outbreak is also believed to be a preliminary sign of ‘Thingtam’  or  flowering of  a particular bamboo species called Bambusa Tulda, (Rawthing in local parlance), due in 2025, he said.

“The intensity of rodent attacks varies from 0.5 to 10 per cent in the incident areas. However, each paddy field in Mualthuam North in south Mizoram’s Lunglei district and Tuirum village in Tripura border Mamit district were completely destroyed by rats,” he said.

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In Karlui-I village in Lawngtlai district bordering Myanmar 1 acre out of 1.5 acre jhum land has been destroyed by the rats, he said.

He said that Mamit and Lunglei districts are the worst affected as rodent attacks were reported in 255.7 hactares of paddy field in Mamit district covering 19 villages, while in Lunglei district 198 hactares of paddy field covering 28 villages were affected.

The goverment has been providing rodenticide to the farmers in all districts and educate them on mass poisoning of rats since August, he said.

Mizoram is a highly agrarian economy as about 70 per cent of the population is dependent on agriculture.

The main farming is slash and burn jhum or shifting cultivation, which gives poor yields.

With the government making massive efforts, jhum farming practices have been steadily replaced with horticulture or long term plantation like betel nuts, grapes and pineapple, among others.

Mizoram witnessed the last rodent attack in 2007 due to ‘mautam’ or flowering of Melocanna Baccifera and the state was experiencing a famine-like situation.

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However, no one died due to the ‘Mautam’ because of timely financial assistance from the Centre and massive preparation by the state government.

Thingtam, which recurs in 48 years cycle, last occurred in the state in 1977.

The formation of Mizoram was closely related with famine.

The two-decade long insurgency spearheaded by the erstwhile underground Mizo National Front (MNF) headed by former chief minister Laldenga was triggered allegedly by the Centre’s negligence towards the plights of the Mizos caused by ‘Mautam’ or  famine that hit Mizoram in 1958.

Laldenga formed Mizo National Famine Front (MNFF) to protest against the inaction of Indian government towards famine.

Later, the MNFF was renamed as Mizo National Front (MNF), which spearheaded an underground movement for 20 years from 1966.

The MNF signed a historic Mizoram peace accord with the Centre in 1986 and Mizoram became the 23rd state of the country in 1987.

Mizoram chief minister Zoramthanga was then the general secretary of the MNF when the accord was signed.

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