GUWAHATI: Manipur’s Agriculture Department has come up with a crop compensation package of ₹38.06 crore as relief for the farmers affected by the ethnic conflict that broke out on May 3.
The ethnic violence between the tribal Kuki and the non-tribal Meitei communities has claimed more than 200 lives and displaced about 60,000 people. The turmoil also prevented farmers in the violence-prone areas from tending to their fields, resulting in crop loss.
Officials said the package was estimated on the basis of an independent survey conducted by Loumee Shinmee Apunba Lup, a farmers’ body which estimated that paddy crop on a total of 9,719 hectares of land on the periphery of Imphal Valley could fail as farmers are afraid to go to the fields because of sporadic firing by armed miscreants from higher grounds.
The total income loss for the State in the farm sector during the violence was estimated at ₹226.5 crore, with rice accounting for 93.36% of the total agriculture and allied activities followed by livestock farming.
“Of the five crisis-hit valley districts [Bishnupur, Imphal East, Imphal West, Kakching, and Thoubal], Bishnupur is the worst affected in terms of agricultural land area comprising 5,288 hectares, constituting 54.4% of the total land area of 9,718 hectares followed by Imphal East with 1,770 hectares and Imphal West,” the report said.
Bishnupur, which shares its boundary with Churachandpur district, has been one of the most vulnerable districts. Farmers of Phubala, Sunusiphai, Naranseina, Khoirentak, Kumbi, Sagang, Torbung, Wangoo, and Khoijuman Khunou villages have been the worst hit, some of them having sustained bullet injuries.
“The current situation is such that our farmers are back to square one. Despite the security arrangements, they fear to venture out to the fields to take care of the paddy plants,” president of the farmers’ body Mutum Churamani said.
He said the farmers were scared to go to their fields located mostly near the foothills, from where intermittent firing had been taking place over the past five months.
“With security arrangements, we somehow managed to send our farmers in July to initiate tilling and prepare for sowing. A State-level monitoring committee was later formed for this purpose,” Mr. Churamani said.
Apart from the commissioner and director of the Agriculture Department, the committee comprised members of five farmers’ organisations. Following the advice of the committee, the Manipur government started providing security cover for the farmers during the kharif season for working in the fields.
About 2,000 security personnel had been diverted for this purpose by downgrading VIP security cover with district commissioners of affected districts appealing to the peasants not to venture out for farming activities without security arrangements considering the volatile situation.
State Agriculture Commissioner R.K. Dinesh Singh said that in order to mitigate the current crisis, the department approached the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) for funding a crop compensation package as relief for the farmers whose livelihoods are threatened by the ethnic violence.
“The MHA accepted the proposal of the department for a crop compensation package of ₹38.06 crore. We want to speed up the process of releasing the relief package to the affected farmers by November,” he said.