Bamboo has a peculiar phenomenon of flowering. Flowering in bamboo draws attention, as it dies after flowering and is believed to cause famine. Gregarious flowering occurred in 1958, which was followed by the 1959 famine. John and Nadgauda showed that there is a connection between the incidence of bamboo flowering and famine, and that it may not be a myth, but a reality. (Correspondence)

rat find: A team of scientists has rediscovered the greater dwarf cloud rat (Carpomys melanurus), last seen 112 years ago. It was in the canopy of a large tree, on a large horizontal branch covered

A famine like situation has gripped Mizoram with over half a million people affected following the flowering of bamboo and subsequent increase in rodent population. "Even though the State is reeling under the grip of famine, there is no starvation death,' said R. Lalthangliana, the Forest and Environment Minister.

The United States will provide an assistance of $50,000 to the Mizoram Government to tide over the food crisis caused due to large-scale crop destruction by an infestation of rats during cyclical flowering of a special species of bamboo every 48 years. Stating that over 30,000 families were facing a food crisis, including 10,000 most severely, a US Consulate release here said, the US government, following the American Embassy's declaration of disaster, would provide assistance of $50,000 for food crisis victims in affected areas of Mizoram.

Bamboo, that is used so extensively in northeast India for various purposes like building houses, bridges, in medicines, and more, spells doom in the form of famine the moment it starts flowering. But is it true, finds out Robert L Sungte If you think all flowers are beautiful and are meant to bring smiles on everyone's face, think once again. There is this flower which does just the opposite. That flower belongs to the bamboo.

Famine caused by bamboo flowering is an indirect phenomenon that happens in 30 to 40 years depending on the species of the bamboo. Senior Congress legislator and NEHU Head of Department of Botany Dr RC Laloo told The Sentinel that bamboo flowering does not directly lead to famine but it occurs after rats have shortage of food. He said when rats feed on the high-protein seeds of bamboo, flowers start to reproduce while their population doubles leading to shortage of seeds. Therefore, the rats are left with no option but to attack the paddy fields, Dr Laloo said.

Famine relief operations are underway in Mizoram as the remote state is hit by acute food shortage after an army of rats devoured rice crops. According to the State's Food and Supplies department, this year, the food shortage has affected about 630,000 people, nearly 70 per cent of the 900,000esidents of Mizoram. However, no starvation deaths have been reported so far. The people of Mizoram fear bamboo flowering, the harbinger of famine.

An inter-ministerial team, led by central agriculture joint secretary Pankaj Kumar, is currently touring Mizoram's countryside to study the ground reality of the bamboo flowering-caused famine.

plague cases are on the rise and are afflicting countries more frequently than before. A who report says there were around 1,900 cases worldwide in 2002, which increased to 2,100 cases in 2003. In

Rats eat our crops, contaminate our stored food, damage our buildings and possessions and spread dangerous diseases to people and livestock. Compared to insect pests, controlling rats and mice can seem difficult. Experience has shown, however, that armed with the right knowledge and tools it is possible to sustainably reduce pest rodent populations in a cost-beneficial way. In recent years, applied research on ecologically-based rodent management (EBRM) has taken place in many countries throughout Asia and Africa. Dec 2007

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