Unseasonal rain and hailstorm in the harvest season of Manipur this year has caused heavy damage to 451 hectares of rice fields in the State forcing farmers of these fields seek help from the concerned authorities, according to official sources.
The State Agriculture Department has also intimated the matter to the concerned departments including the State’s Relief and Disaster Management authority to take up the necessary steps, sources said.
More than 77,900 hectares of rice fields out of affected 78,677 agricultural land, were damaged in Manipur after the State had witnessed floods five times since the cyclone ‘Mora’ arrived in May this year.
Interestingly, even though Regional Meteorological Centre in Guwahati claimed that Manipur was facing a 35 per cent rain deficiency in this year’s monsoon, Imphal received the highest rainfall since 1956, recording 2,439.4mm in 2017 till December 25 or 68.71 per cent above the State’s annual precipitation of 1446.3mm, the Indian Council of Agricultural Research’s Imphal centre has said.
In 2017, the highest rainfall was recorded on March 31 (103.4mm) and highest monthly record in December with 116.3mm of rains till December 13.
Such unpredicted rain in the months of November and December this year has left behind a trail of destruction across the ready to harvest rice fields in the State particularly in Bishnupur and Imphal East districts.
Farmers of Wangkhei Loumanbi Loukon (rice fields) in Imphal East district said they cultivated their fields with short duration seeds provided by the Agriculture Department after their fields were flooded three times this year.
But they suffered crop losses of over 80 percent urging the state authority to support them.
This tiny northeastern State of the country has around two lakh hectares of agricultural land with maximum area under rice cultivation as this crop being the main staple food for its (2.8 million) population. However more than 70,000 hectares of rice fields remain unutilized after the harvest season every year.
In view of the development, the State Government has recently constituted a high powered committee comprising command area development authority, minor irrigation and agriculture departments to work together to cultivate winter crops in these unutilized fields which have lack of irrigation facilities, the agriculture department sources said.