new report on hunger in burma's chin state
New Resource Report on Bamboo Rat Crisis in Burma
July 30, 2008
Project Maje has produced a new resource report, "Rats and Kyats: Bamboo Flowering Causes a Hunger Belt in Chin State, Burma."
The bamboo species Melocanna baccifera blossoms approximately every 48 years. This type of bamboo grows throughout a large area of Northeast India (primarily in Mizoram and Manipur States) as well as regions of Burma (mainly Chin State) and Bangladesh (Hill Tracts.) It densely covers valleys and hillsides in the rugged terrain of the region. The blossoming bamboo produces fruit, then dies off. During the fruiting stage of the cycle, forest rats feed on the bamboo fruits/seeds. Once the population of rats has stripped the forest of bamboo fruit/seeds, rat swarms invade farms and villages to devour crops and stored rice. This phenomenon, known as the Mautam, has historically resulted in mass starvation among indigenous peoples of the region where Melocanna baccifera bamboo grows. While the current Mautam bamboo/rat cycle as it affects Northeast India has been covered by journalists, and food aid is being provided there and in the Bangladesh Hill Tracts, the Mautam crisis across the borders in Burma is less well known. In Burma's Chin State, local groups are attempting to provide aid, but there is not yet a large scale organized relief effort in the Mautam affected areas.
The Project Maje resource report, "Rats and Kyats" is intended for journalists, aid workers and other researchers who may become interested in the bamboo/rat cycle as it affects Burma. News stories and documents are reproduced or linked in it, and there is also a links list of background information on the bamboo/rat cycle as it affects Mizoram, Manipur and Bangladesh.
Project Maje is an independent information project on Burma’s human rights and environmental issues, founded in 1986.
"Rats and Kyats: Bamboo Flowering Causes a Hunger Belt in Chin State, Burma" is available at: