Manipur, a hill state in north east India is facing one of it’s worst natural disasters: Flowering of bamboos.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.
Manipur 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)+ bamboo industry. As for local consumption, people here use bamboo practically for every reason – from building a house and fences to cooking a local dish. Bamboos of Manipur are also described as lifeline of only paper mill in the region.
This year several districts in Manipur has witnessed bamboo flowering. 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 5 hills district 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 Rs 5.
The government usually releases fund to combat the impact of bamboo flowering. In the year 2006-2007, it had allocated Rs 1 crore. But it is not yet known if the state has a plan ready to fight the bamboo flowering impact this year.