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Last Updated: Friday, 11 January 2008, 17:55 GMT
Rats devour rice in Indian state
By Subir Bhaumik
BBC News, Calcutta

Collecting rat tails
Gathering rat tails together - each one is now worth two rupees
Farmers in India's north-eastern state of Mizoram have lost nearly 88% of their rice harvest after rats ravaged croplands last year, officials say.

Nearly 40,000 tonnes of rice are reported to have been lost, with more than 70% of farming families affected.

The state's heavy flowering bamboo crops attract hordes of rats, a phenomenon known locally as Mautam.

Not only do the rats thrive on the bamboo flowers, they also then go on to destroy the farmers' crops.

Rat reward

Mizoram agriculture official James Lalsiamliana told the BBC no maize had been harvested in the state either.


He said the rats had also devoured other crops such as pumpkin, watermelon, chilli, banana and papaya.

"The total cultivation area was reduced during the year to around 75% due to apprehensions of destruction of paddy and other crops by rats," he said.

All districts of Mizoram had been affected, with Saiha and Lawngtlai in the south worst hit, he said. There, the loss of rice crops had been almost total.

The state's problems have been compounded by farmers not planting for fear that crops will be eaten by the rats.

"Most of those who planted lost everything to the rats," Mr Lalsiamliana said.

Desperate to control the rising rat population, the state government now offers a reward of two rupees for every rat killed.

Hundreds of thousands have been killed in the past couple of years, but the rats keep coming in hordes.

Plague of rats hits Indian state
12 Dec 07 |  South Asia
Bracing for a famine caused by rats
24 Apr 07 |  South Asia
Bamboo puts India on famine alert
11 Oct 04 |  South Asia
Rat boom sparks India hunger alert
04 Dec 02 |  South Asia

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