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Agriculture And Land Policy Mooted To Save Fields

IMPHAL, Feb 12: Recommendation has been made for stringent implementation of Agricultural Land Act in Manipur to save the existing agricultural land from being taken over for other purposes.

At the end of the five-day long Khari Loubuk Kanba Kongchat (Rally to save agricultural land) organized by Loumee-Shinmee Apunba Lup, five different recommendations were adopted at a public meeting at TYC ground, Takhel Leikai here today.

The recommendations are implementation of Agricultural Land Act, inclusion of lessons related to Agriculture, Horticulture and Social Anthropology in the school curriculum, ensuring ownership rights to the farmers whose agricultural land around Loktak Lake have been affected by the Loktak Hydro Multipurpose Project, seeking con- sent of the land owners before taking up any project, oil exploration, construction of dams and other commercial planning, and formation of a network of like-minded farmers to fight for their rights.

Presided over by LOUSHAL president, the meeting was attended by Associate Professor KI Meetei of VAMNICON, Pune; Deputy Director of State Agriculture Department Ph Rajendro and cultural activist Ninthouja Lancha as guests of honor.

Speaking at the occasion, Rajendro, while congratulating the organizers for successful completion of the rally participated by around 120 volunteers from four valley districts of the State, pointed out that Manipur requires 7 lakh tonne of rice in a year but has been able to produce only 5 lakh tonne. So, every year, 2 lakh tonne of rice has to be imported from outside Manipur.

Rajendro explained that the main reason behind the inability to produce enough rice to last for one year in Manipur is dependence on seasonable rain for agricultural purpose and absence of proper irrigation facilities. Moreover, farmers in Manipur continue to practice traditional method of cultivation contrary to the fact that cultivable land area is shrinking.

He further pointed out that there has been no Agricultural Land Act in Manipur so far. There is an Agricultural Land Bill. But it has not yet been enacted as an Act. In the absence of such an Act that would ensure protection of agricultural land and ownership rights to the farmers, the farmers have not been able to take any decision of their own when it comes to adoption of newer methods of agricultural practices.

Taking into consideration of all these factors, the Agriculture Department has been making efforts towards increasing food production through proper identification of agricultural land.

In his address, KI Meetei pointed out that before taking up any project, an alternative source of livelihood should be arranged for the would be affected people. As no such arrangements have been made farmers who used to live on farming around Loktak Lake are today suffering after around 80,000 Paris of agricultural located around lake have been submerged under water following the commissioning of Loktak Hydro Electric Project.

Farmers do not meant cultivators of rice alone. Alternative arrangements for rearing of cattle, pig, fish, etc could be provided as well, he added.

Ninthouja Lancha observed that at one time, every household in Manipur used to have ponds, cattle shed, chicken coops, etc.  But we are facing scarcity of food and water after some people who think that giving up all these activities is development came about.

(Courtesy: The Sangai Express)

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