The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Beyond Headlines
Officials of the animal husbandry department cull a chicken at a
village in Dhubri on Wednesday. Picture by Eastern Projections

Assam farmers seek to allay bird flu fears

If you happen to see large numbers of poultry farmers gobbling boiled eggs and chicken curry on television, do not mistake it for an attempt to create a new world record. The farmers are attempting to banish the fear of bird flu in the state, in order to save their source of livelihood.

Nearly 50,000 poultry farmers are on the brink of losing their livelihood as a result of the outbreak of bird flu in West Bengal. The rumours filtering in from the neighbouring state have affected business, with the people chickening out of buying poultry products.

The All-Assam Poultry Farmers Association has approached the state government to allay what it claimed were “unfounded fears” about the flu.

“It is absolutely safe to consume poultry products, as no case of bird flu has been reported in Assam,” a member of the association said, providing food for thought.

Raindrop cure

This Raindrop can hold more than a drop of water.

The farmers of Assam will soon be introduced to water retaining granules called Raindrops, for more efficient irrigation. The technology will be imported from Germany and be of great benefit to the farmers, by enhancing plant growth and cutting the cost of irrigation.

Raindrop is a cross-linked organic polyacrylamide. When the granules come in contact with water, they swell into particles of gel, which store water and plant nutrients. It can either be scattered by hand or through machinery before the land is ploughed. It can also be mixed with the water used for irrigation. The technology will initially be used for orange cultivation on 100 hectares of land at Boko in Kamrup district in the first phase.

Last summer, Assam witnessed a severe dry spell, which affected the crops. The state agriculture department is hopeful that the new technology would at least help minimise the impact of the drought. Recently, Assam agriculture minister Promila Rani Brahma blamed poor irrigation facilities for the sad state of agriculture in the state.

Freedom film

Guwahati-based feature and documentary filmmaker Aneisha Sharma’s short film, Freedom at the Edge, is bagging honours in the country and abroad. The short film was adjudged the best film at the Chennai International Short Film Festival, among 90 others selected from 15 countries.

It depicts the life of Machal Lalung, the man who spent 54 years in the Tezpur mental asylum before he was reunited with his family after the intervention of the National Human Rights organisation.

After winning rave reviews at the Boston Film Festival, Freedom at the Edge also won accolades at the recently concluded Mumbai Film Festival.

The Singapore International Film Festival, to be held in April, is next. “I am happy that the film has been well received wherever it was screened, because of its touching theme,” said Sharma.

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