Paddy Cultivation Begins In Manipur’s Black Rice Growing Areas With Enhanced Security Measures

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Posted in Featured, Manipur, Northeast
NET Web Desk

Manipur, July 06, 2023: Paddy cultivation has commenced in the black rice growing areas of Manipur under the vigilant protection of security forces. The process began in the foothills of Koubru in Imphal West district, where farmers from different communities are tilling the land under the watchful eyes of jawans. The deployment of Army and Assam Rifles personnel in Kangpokpi and Western Imphal districts aims to ensure the safety of farmers during the sowing season, particularly in areas known for their famous ‘black rice’.

To prioritize the farmers’ safety in these troubled regions, the state government has downgraded the VIP security cover of several ministers, MLAs, politicians, and bureaucrats. Approximately 2,000 security personnel will be redirected to protect farmers engaged in cultivation. Chief Minister N Biren Singh announced the deployment of additional security forces in various districts to enhance agricultural security after a meeting of the unified command.

The involvement of central forces is a response to the adverse impact of ongoing ethnic violence on agriculture in Manipur. Experts have cautioned that food production in the state may suffer if the situation does not improve. As of June 28, agriculture experts estimate that farmers were unable to cultivate around 5,127 hectares of agricultural land, resulting in a loss of 15,437.23 metric tonnes. If paddy cultivation is not carried out extensively during this monsoon season, the loss is expected to increase further by the end of July.

Farmers are concerned about the potential shortage of locally grown ‘black rice’ and the subsequent price rise if farming is not conducted extensively across all areas by the end of this month. While some farmers in outlying areas of Imphal are bravely tending to their fields despite the fear of militant attacks from nearby hills, others are refraining from farming due to safety concerns during this peak season.

The state has witnessed sharp ethnic divisions between the Meitei community residing in the valley and the Kuki community residing in the hills, leading to violent incidents over the past two months. Since the outbreak of ethnic violence, nearly 120 people have lost their lives, and over 3,000 have been injured. The violence erupted following a ‘Tribal Solidarity March’ organized on May 3 to protest against the Meitei community’s demand for Scheduled Tribe (ST) status.

In an effort to restore peace, Union Home Minister Amit Shah visited Manipur for four days last month, engaging with various sections of the population. Currently, approximately 40,000 central security personnel, in addition to the Manipur Police, have been deployed in the state to regain normalcy and control the violence. The successful implementation of paddy cultivation under heightened security measures is crucial for ensuring food security and stability in Manipur.

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