Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Mautam Mizoram Famine

Mautam - is a cyclic ecological phenomenon that occurs every 48 years in the northeastern Indian state of Mizoram, which is thirty percent covered by wild bamboo forests

How it works- After flowering, the bamboo dies and regenerates from the seeds. The rodents feast on these seeds which are available in plenty, which as an indirect consequence, causes a sudden boom in its population. The action of the rats is thought to be an ecological control mechanism. The seeds of any culm of bamboo that might flower off-cycle are all eaten up by rodents, thus reinforcing the rhythm of this extreme version of a mast year. Some experts believe that the flower has a positive effect on the fertility of the rats, as well as on increasing the viable size of a rat litter. All available explanations point to the fact that the increase in their numbers during the peak year is a natural after-effect of the flowering of the bamboos.
- Wikipedia Mautam

"These are some of the pics i captured from my video film, hope u understand just seeing the pix, sugarcane , ginger, citrus pics u see are the results of rats attack. And these children are out in the jungle everyday to search for sweet potatos (ram bahra in Mizo), coz they have no food/rice at home" - Josepha Colney

Total number of households is 176134 (Census 2001), out of which 141825 are affected by the Mautam

The quality and quantity of the food consumption has decreased and many people have only 1-2 meals per day. Milk, potatoes and PDS rice have become rare commodities and the cost of rice has risen from Rs 9 to Rs 15 per kg. People previously produced rice, vegetables, fish and livestock for their own consumption but now have to purchase rice and vegetables at inflated prices, which decreases their food consumption. People in distress are selling their land and livestock at much decreased prices further undermining their ability to be self-sufficient

There has been an increase in illness during Mautam with most affected children showing signs of viral meningitis, nerve disorders or vitamin deficiency resulting in swelling of limbs.

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