Department Director James Lalsiamliana said rodent attacks on crop and paddy land were reported in about 33 villages and affected four districts.
He said three rural development blocks – Lunglei, Lungsen and Bunghmun in southern Mizoram bordering Bangladesh – and West Phaileng block in Mamit district bordering Tripura in the western part of the state were worst hit. The infestation affected 295.6 hectares of land, he said.
Rodent attacks on crops and paddy were also reported in Saitual and Khawzawl districts in the northeastern part of the state, but the outbreak was minor, he said.
According to James, the infection is believed to be a pre-symptom or pre-indication of the ‘Thingtam’ or flowering of a particular bamboo species called Bambusa Tulda, (Rawthing in local language), which is due in 2025, he said. . The flowering of Dendrocalamus (Rawnal) species currently occurring in different parts of the state is also believed to be another reason for an increase in the rodent population, he said.
The official said that the government is making efforts to control the rat population by providing poison to farmers and organizing awareness programs among them.
He said the current rat outbreak is unlikely to have much impact on rice or crop production in the state.
According to James, the last ‘Thingtam’ occurred in the state in 1977 and is expected to repeat in 2025 as the incident occurs in a cycle every 48 years. He said that ‘Thingtam’ or flowering of Bambusa Tulda also occurs 17 years after ‘Mautam’ or flowering of ‘Mautak’ or Melocanna Baccifera.
Mizoram witnessed a famine-like situation in 2007 due to flowering of Melocanna Baccifera, when hordes of rats ravaged paddy fields across the state.
However, no one died due to the ‘Mautam’ due to timely financial assistance from the Center and massive preparations by the state government. It may be recalled that the two-decade insurgency led by the former underground Mizo National Front (MNF) was allegedly triggered by the Center’s apprehension of the plight of the Mizos caused by the severe ‘Mautam’ that hit Mizoram in 1958.
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