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Flowering bamboo creates economic crisis in Manipur
After 69 day-long economic blockade, the economy of Manipur state in India is in trouble again. This is from flowering of bamboo. A video produced by a local reporter from interior Manipur brings in light this phenomenon which is rare and natural.
THE STATE of Manipur in Northeast India is one of the largest bamboo producing states of the country. It has about 3,218 sq km area covered with bamboo forest. Production in this large forest contributes greatly to India’s Rs 7,000 + Crore (1.43 billion dollar) + bamboo industry. The local economy of Manipur also benefits a lot as bamboos are used practically for every reason – from building a house to cook a local dish. The world market for bamboo is valued at US $ 10.

The mass flowering of bamboos is known as ‘gregarious flowering of bamboo’. Though it isn’t harmful to humans, it causes great economic loss. This is because after the flowering and seeding, the bamboo ‘clumps' die. Secondly, rats feast on bamboo seeds and multiply their numbers. Once all the bamboo plants die, these rats then start attacking agricultural crops.

This year several districts in Manipur has witnessed bamboo flowering. A video by Achungmei Kamei, a community reporter captures this flowering phenomenon. The video, named ‘Bamboo Bloom Spells Doom’ and how people of the community, normally heavily dependent on bamboo, is dealing with the aftereffects. The natural phenomenon of bamboo flowering has been recorded to have happened in 1862, 1881, 1911-12 and 1959 too. All of them resulted in severe famine.

Tamenglong, the district that Achungmei Kamei is based in, is one of the five hill districts of Manipur. This year the district has suffered severe economic loss due to a 69 day-long economic blockade. The blockade which Achungmei earlier reported on, created shortage all basic amenities, including food items. Destruction of bamboo due to bamboo flowering is feared to add to this loss. Already the price of bamboo shoots – a part of people’s daily diet – has gone up by five rupees.

The government usually releases fund to combat the impact of bamboo flowering. In the year 2006-2007, it had allocated one crore rupees. But it is not yet known if the state has a plan ready to fight the bamboo flowering impact this year.

In past few years, however, the federal government has multiplied the fund allocated to Manipur. If the state is serious about helping farmers who have experienced great loss due to bamboo flowering, it can. The only prerequisite is political will.

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