Incessant rains that pelted down across the state over the last week wreak havoc on many paddy fields in the state and farmers were left helplessly watching as their hard work was rendered worthless by water logging that damaged their crops. The proverb – ‘As you sow, so shall you reap’ remained a half-truth for those farmers whose paddy crops have been damaged by rains this year. Many farmers have lamented that their year-long effort was all in vain.
Joseph Nepumi, a farmer from Chowainamei Khullen, Senapati district expressed that all his paddy crops have been damaged due to water logging in his field near Maram Khullen. In the previous year 6-7 bags of 60-70 kg a sack were yielded from his 1.5 acres of land. After the reaping of the paddy for 2-3 days, it remained under water for 3-4 days, sprouting as a result, before the threshing took place. The sprouting means his paddy is all spoiled. This year, he yields nothing; whatever he yields will remain food for pigs, hens and ducks. He has lost everything, he explains downcast.
Joseph said his granary would remain empty this time. He is worried about the survival of his family for the next year. It is hard to run a family without his wife who expired 10 years back due to a heart attack. He is living with his three sons and one daughter fulfilling all the responsibilities of a single parent. There will be a great impact on the educational expenses of his children, and food too, as his grains are all spoiled. Now the only hope for Joseph is the potatoes which he planted in his field. He planted 200 kg of potatoes this year. He did not have other means of earning during the COVID-19 as he was confined at home all the time. Moreover, he has no idea about any new ways of earning. As Joseph is illiterate, he did not know where to go and whom to meet and how to seek help from the government. But he is still hopeful the government will compensate him for the loss he has suffered.
Another farmer, Toijam Megha Luwang, 58 years, from Nambol Khongkham Mayai Leikai of Bishnupur district narrated that his paddy plants remained under water for about 15 days with grains fully ripe, at his farm at Charokom, Nambol. He planted Brozendro variety of paddy this time in his one sangam area of land. The water level is up to waist in his fields. His entire paddy is all sprouted, but are all reaped and collected by using a boat and are ready for threshing shortly. Last year the production was 20 bags of 40 kg a sack. This year the production will be less and more expensive as it requires more manpower and its time consuming to work with all the water in the fields. Megha engaged 10-14 persons for reaping which normally required only 6-8 persons. This is the first time he has been using boat in his farm. Threshing work will be done by machine to save money, time and manpower. He also expressed that due to the insufficient drainage system the farmers have been facing such type of losses. He appealed to the government to conduct a comprehensive survey of the agricultural land and take necessary action regarding the irrigation and other related issues being faced by farmers. To give more emphasis to agricultural development, government should devise an action plan for more production and better life for the farmers. He also appealed to the concerned authorities to make people aware about the unwanted human activities that cause inconvenience in agricultural activities.
Another farmer, Naorem Jitesh Meetei, from the same locality of Nambol Khongkham Mayai Leikai of Bisnupur district, faced similar problems. He planted RC Rani 7 paddy variety this year at Nambol Turel Mapan in an area of three lousel. Due to water logging in his paddy field, the entire paddy crop is spoiled. He had hoped the production would be good as the fruit bearing happened perfectly this year. But the rains proved to be a disaster. Because of more weight in the crops it has gone underwater more. The water level in his field is up to knee level. The paddy plants were under water for some days before it was reaped. The plants are sprouted and much could not be done about it though they used boats which are an added expense. The boat charges from morning till noon is Rs. 500. Its assumed he’s already spent more than what his production would be. Last year, the yield was 25 bags of 40 kg a sack but it’s still not known how much the paddy would stock up to this year.
The farmer also expressed that if the production is less, it will have some impact on the expenses required for his family. He narrated that he did not have the idea of crop insurance. He believes a proper irrigation system would save him from the problem next time. During the pandemic, Jitesh could not find other works, and moreover, the rains that lashed down last week couldn’t have been more ill-timed for his crops. He wants the government to provide relief assistance to the farmers who have lost their crops.
Not only Jitesh, Megha or Joseph, there are other farmers whose crops have been spoiled. For the farmers once their crops are damaged they have lost everything and their hopes too. If the farmers fail to produce sufficient crops it directly or indirectly affects the people, resulting in shortage of food supply in the state. The pertinent question here is who will compensate the farmers. Is the blame on nature or unwanted human activities that cause destruction of the environment? Many farmers do not even have the knowledge of crop insurance and other farmers do not know of benefit schemes launched by the government. The concerned authorities need to address the issue and fulfill the dreams of the farmers for a self-sufficient and green state.