Ukhrul: Agriculture is a self-reliant way of life for the people of Manipur, especially those residing in the hills. The pandemic has undoubtedly given a significant boost to agriculture with the government giving the highest priority to it and its allied sectors.
The unseen challenges posed by COVID-19 did not discourage farmers from Ukhrul district from agriculture. They responded relatively well while maintaining guidelines during the lockdown. The onset of monsoon rainfall in early June saw people living in the villages drawn towards their farms for paddy cultivation.
Rice remains the staple diet for a population over 28 lakh in Manipur, both living in the hills and the valley. Rice is a dominant crop and accounts for almost all of the cereal crop production in the state.
During this time of the year, farmers across the state, especially residents of hill districts, get busy in planting rice.
People living in the hills still practice the age-old traditional way of planting the rice seedling manually as farmers divide each young sapling and plant in waterlogged fields, which involved gruelling and back-breaking hard work.
Seeds sowed on dryland during the sowing season are uprooted and kept in bunches for the transplantation into the waterlogged fields.
The men do the ploughing and weeding the fields while women wade into the flooded fields to plant the rice nurseries into rows as they sing farming songs to keep themselves motivated.
Locals in the hills usually start their rice plantation in June until late July with the arrival of monsoon rains. The terrace fields become muddy and wet, making it a perfect for plantation.