AP govt seeks 'Pied Piper'

Mice menace

The state Agriculture department has recently launched a Rs 2-crore special programme to catch rats in paddy fields which are devouring crops.

According to advertisements that appeared in Telugu and English dailies on Saturday, at least 25,000 rat catchers are needed to curb the  menace.

Farmers want to hire five persons per 100 acre.  They say rodents  not only eat away saplings, but cut  also holes into mud bunds.

Invasion in lakhs

 The massive rodent invasion in  25 lakh acres of paddy in East and West Godavari districts on the east coast during the last kharif season had led to the loss of 5 lakh tonnes of crops. Catching rats has become a big business in the Godavari delta districts where paddy crop is cultivated thrice in a year. 

Farmers and the agriculture department have advertised in newspapers for people to catch rodents on a contract basis and the bottom prices offered are Rs 10-30 per rat.

Apart from money, the catchers are offered board and  lodging facilities for two months of farming season.

“We are ready to give  liquor and  chicken twice a week,”  said  Kongara Sambashiv Rao, a farmer of  Amalapuram.

Of late,  rodents have become immune to chemicals and pesticides distributed freely by the Agriculture department.

The department’s bid to import and spread snakes and eagles which live on rats also failed to contain the menace.  Indiscriminate killing of snakes also  led to the spurt in rodent population.

Scientists and administrators attributed the trend to climate change and said the increasing ground-level heat is driving them out into surface in search of cool environs.

“Erratic monsoon is one of the reasons for rodent outbreak, besides soil erosion in the coastal delta fields,” says Shivaji Rao, an environment campaigner of Visakhapatnam.

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