Vegetables growers in state hit hard by lockdown

IMPHAL, 7th Apr: Many people are facing scarcity of edible items including fresh vegetables due to the lockdown imposed by the government to contain spread of the pandemic COVID-19 and even if the vegetables are available; their prices are so high that it is impossible for many people to buy them.
The state has been following the nation-wide lockdown protocols, restricting people to come out of their houses, and this restriction has created horrendous problems to the public as they are also facing scarcity of edible items.
Previously, the government allowed sale of grocery items in the market by designating certain days and hours with respect to specific places but now such exemptions have also been restricted till April 12, thus adding more problems to the people.
Shops selling edible items were all closed except for few vendors selling vegetables in certain localities of Imphal valley. So, people find it very hard to buy edible items for their survival.
The main areas associated with mass production of fresh vegetables in the state are Toubul, Khoijuman and Kwasiphai of Bishnupur district, few areas of Lilong and certain areas of Imphal East district.
The seasonal vegetables that have been produced perennially from 40 paris of Toubul, 35 paris of Khoijuman and 30 paris of Kwasiphai were distributed and sold to various markets of Imphal, Moirang and Churachandpur.
The main vegetables produced from the areas in Bishnupur district are beans, tomato, brinjal, cabbage, cauliflower, chilly, etc.
It is informed that vegetables plucked for selling were all left rotten as it is impossible to market them because of the lockdown imposed.
There is also growing concerns regarding the scarcity of vegetable items in the state because of the increasing population and lack of food producers. If cultivation of vegetable were stopped because of the lockdown, the problem of scarcity of food would only be compounded in the near future.
Owing to lack of rainfall and government’s failure to provide irrigation facilities to farmers, vegetables could not be produced sufficiently last year. Adding more problems to the farmers, there is also no cold storage facility in the state to keep fruits and vegetables fresh and prevent them from getting rotten.
Due to the ongoing lockdown, distribution of various seasonal seeds for plantation to the farmers under various schemes of the horticulture department has also stopped and the farmers might not be able to carry out any plantation if the seeds were not made available to them.
An official of Horticulture Department informed that all the activities of the department have been stopped since the lockdown and the distribution of seeds for plantation to the farmers has not been discussed as of now.
When asked whether plantation done with seeds that are in the custody of the farmers would be able to meet the food requirement of people of the state, the officials noted that it is a serious concern that needs to be discussed thoroughly. Meanwhile, the practice of vegetable gardening at homes when there was ample space has almost become a thing of the past. So, the people of Manipur would only be staring at an uncertain future when it comes to the question of sufficiency in food production.

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