Imphal/ July 10, 2023 (SPN) | The continuing violence, fueled by armed Kuki militants, has left more than 40,000 hectares of farmland under siege and untouched by agricultural activities, due to attacks by Kuki militants.
This has raised serious concerns as Manipur heavily relies on paddy farming as a primary source of income and sustenance. Khuraijam Ram, the Secretary of Loumi Sinmee Sintha Kanba Lup, Manipur shed light on the dire situation faced by farmers whose farmland is under siege in the state.
Speaking at the press conference held at the Manipur Press Club, Ram expressed his deep concern for the Meetei farming community, highlighting the constant fear and vulnerability they face due to armed attacks by Kuki militants.
The farmers have been left in a state of uncertainty, unable to tend to their fields without the looming threat of violence. Ram emphasized the urgent need for support and intervention to ensure the livelihoods of these food producers.
During the press meet, Ram made a crucial appeal to landowners who lease out paddy fields. He urged them to share essential land documents with the farmers, as these documents are vital for the farmers to avail their rightful share of urea from the government.
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This appeal is seen as a crucial step in enabling farmers to access the necessary resources for their agricultural activities.
Furthermore, Ram called upon the agriculture department to publicly announce the rate of urea to prevent unscrupulous agents from taking undue advantage of the crisis situation and engaging in unfair price hikes.
Transparent disclosure of urea rates will empower farmers to procure fertilizers at fair prices, ensuring their ability to sustain their farming practices.
In addition to addressing these immediate concerns, Ram stressed the need for immediate action to address the escalating violence and ensure the safety and security of the farmers. He appealed to the authorities, law enforcement agencies, and community leaders to come together and put an end to the cycle of violence. The lives and livelihoods of the farming community must be safeguarded.
Responding to the severity of the situation, the home department has deployed 1,847 security personnel, including home guards and SDRF, in the five valley districts of Manipur where most of the farmlands are located.
Of them, 846 are deployed in Imphal West, 389 in Imphal East, 273 in Bishnupur, 147 in Thoubal, and 192 in Kakching districts. Additional forces will be deployed in Imphal East in the days to come, according to sources.
These personnel, primarily from Indian Reserve Battalion and Manipur Rifles, are tasked with protecting the farmland under siege from armed attacks originating from the nearby hills. The deployment is aimed at restoring a sense of security in the farming community.
The impact of the ongoing violence extends beyond the immediate loss of crops. The inability to grow paddy will lead to a scarcity of food supply, increased food prices, and heightened dependence on external sources for sustenance. Many farming families, who were once self-sufficient, now face the grim reality of food insecurity.
The long-term consequences of disrupted paddy cultivation are severe. Financial distress and debt accumulation are likely outcomes, resulting in a decline in the overall socio-economic well-being of the Meetei farming community. The loss of paddy fields and the disruption in agricultural activities have far-reaching implications for the wider society.
Moreover, comprehensive support programs, including financial aid and counseling services, should be implemented to alleviate the financial distress faced by the affected farmers. This assistance will enable them to recover from the losses incurred and rebuild their lives and agricultural practices.
Efforts should also be made to strengthen the security measures in the farming areas, ensuring a safe environment for farmers to carry out their activities.
Regular patrols and increased presence of security personnel will instill confidence among the farmers and help them regain a sense of normalcy.