By Shyam Waikhom
IMPHAL, January 19: The largest fresh water lake in the entire North Eastern region of India, Loktak Lake provides several avenues of livelihood to the people.
The Phumdis (heterogeneous mass of vegetation, soil and organic matters at various stages of decomposition) is a huge resource of livelihood avenues for the locals inhabiting in the surrounding areas of Loktak Lake.
The vegetation found on the phumdis are collected and sold in the market and to the locals.
One such plant found on the phumdis is a reed known locally as Tou (tall woody perennial grasses with hollow slender stems.
The special kind of reed is in high demand in the villages and localities of Toubul area.
The cost of a bunch of weed is around Rs 70-75 and a farmer can collect about 50 bunches of reed in two days, a farmer from Toubul told this reporter.
Detailing the farming of the reed, he said the reeds are properly nurtured till they are fully matured and then cut and kept in bundles.
The bundles are than brought to the banks of the lake by boat.
The bundles are than sold to the people who used as vegetables.
He said the reed is also used for fencing and to support vegetables by many especially around Kwakshiphai, Khoijuman, etc.
The cutting of the reeds commence from the first week of January and continue till around April, he said.
He added that sometimes a farmer can earn about Rs 4000 in a day or two by selling plants found in the lake alone.
The reed is now in demand from other places also, he said before adding that it can also be used a cooking fuel after drying.
Speaking on the life of a farmer of Loktak Lake, he said farmers collect fishes from the nets which were set the night before in the lake. At the same time they cut grass for their domesticated cattle and collect a boatful of grass in a day before lunch time.
Women collect edible water herbs like komperak, yelli from the lake to be sold in the market.
Farmers also have fish farms in the lake by making ring-bung with the phumdis, which helps to earn something during off season, he continued.
Beside, this practice people of the locals have fish farm inside Phumdis with making ring-ban with the phumdis. He added that the practice is a just part of easy earning money during off season.