Impact of global warming on centuries old traditional farming

    27-Dec-2022
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Mingyashin Shaiza

ARTICLE
In a population of around 1.84 lakhs (2011 Census) and total area of 4544 Sq km, Ukhrul district (Kamjong included) has a cultivable land resource area of 2026 Sq Km with forest area of 3426 Sq Km. The major crops sown in these areas are Rice, Maize, Pea, Potato, Cabbage, Pumpkin, Squash and Fruits such as Lemon, Banana, Passion fruit, Plum, Pineapple, Guava and more.
Faring Chihui Lui is a paddy field in Ukhrul Town that has withstood the change of time. Given a chance to interact with a group of farmers of different ages, some who had been cultivating and tending the paddy field since 1960s.
According to them, paddy cultivation was the main source of food in Ukhrul before 1990s. Entire household depended on rice as the main source of food and nutrition. Almost all the families own a paddy field which is mainly practiced on hill slopes known as wet terrace farming.
Paddy fields are divided into three different types of cultivation depending on the location namely Chihui, Kapor Ramyao and Luikui. Types of rice like Haosir, Kongma, Rasham is cultivated in Chihui; Mataima (mashima) is cultivated in Kapor Ramyao; Machang, Phungpha ma, Raring ma, is cultivated in Luikui (the paddy field nearest to the house). Ningsik, Shirui ma, Paori ma, Phungpha ma are types of rice that were added later.
Most of the above mentioned rice paddies are not in use anymore as they flourish only in cold climate. Due to global warming, Ukhrul has become warmer and these rice paddies began to give empty chaff.
Due to the reduction in the rate of harvest, the farmers began to choose other types of paddies that are more compatible to the warmer climate. Particularly rice like Razaima was most affected due to warming in climate.
Awomon, who is almost 70 years now, recalling the olden times (1960s-70s) said that Hunphun/Ukhrul cultivated only one type of rice i.e. the ones cultivated in Chihui Lui. “It is harvested much later comparing to the ones we have now”, he added. The harvesting was done as late as November 17. But by the year 1980s to 90s, mixed rice began to be in use as it can be harvested much earlier and has better harvest and shorter stem. The rice plants that were used in olden days had longer stem and it would fall and break easily when strong wind comes. To put it short, in olden days, rice were harvested in the month of November (Known as Kharangma) but nowadays harvesting is over by mid October (Khayaima)
Crops and vegetables like maize, string beans, soya beans, long beans, cucumber, bottle gourd, brinjal and herbs like mint, and chives etc were planted at the space in between each step of the paddy field. Human activities like hunting and climate change had also affected the crops.  The climate in Ukhrul started to get much warmer after 2000. Also human activities such as hunting and burning forest for hunting and for better pastures, mainly the cattleman, added to the warmth.
Earlier, this was not practiced freely as the punishment for burning forest, referred in local language as “Maiyen Khayang” is strictly followed. The increase in population and adaptation to the outside world had made the people ignore the culture and tradition that were followed.
Hunting was in control. When the village chief puts out an order, no hunting was taken up unless it was allowed. As hunting increased, Pangolin known as Saham in local dialect has greatly reduced in number. Since Pangolin survives on ants and their population have reduced, there is an increase in the number of ants and insects. Also there is an increase in rats and worms as killing of birds are not in control. They have infested the crops and it has affected greatly crop production. 
This research is done and article written under the Media fellowship by Directorate of Environment and Climate Change on the topic “Climate resilient land resource management in Manipur”