The village economy of Tripura thrives on agriculture and animal husbandry. Most villagers cultivate crops like paddy and rubber, and also rear animals like cows, goats, and pigs. The indigenous community of the state is very fond of pork and so rearing it is considered to be a good source of income. Right now, however, many people are suffering economic losses as the swine flu has rapidly spread across villages, killing the pigs one after the other. A similar flu was reported from Mizoram in May.
Pigs are an important part of the indigenous community of Tripura where pork is most-widely consumed. Every celebration is considered to be incomplete if pork is not served. A kilo of pork fetches about Rs. 400 kilo in the market due to its high demand. Other than that, a female pig delivers about 8-9 piglets which add to the income of the household. Now that pigs are dying, pig farmers are worried about their losses.
Some of these losses are of very personal nature, as narrated by Jiten Sadhan Jamatia, a pig farmer of a village called Hakwchak Kami. He said that he was rearing a pig for his wedding but unfortunately the pig has died and now he is clueless as to what to do. “I was planning to get married last year but a full lockdown was established due to the first wave of the CoronaVirus. This year, the pig has died so my wedding plans have changed again. It takes at least two years for a pig to grow up fully and right now we don’t have the money to buy it from the market for the wedding.”
Another young man from the village, Hamya Jamatia said that he was depending on his pigs to earn an income during the lockdown. According to Jamatia, the Covid-19 related lockdown has reduced job opportunities for the youth living in the state. “I am unable to find any work during the second lockdown. As if that was not enough, now the swine flu has killed one of my pigs. It is a huge loss for me,” he said. A grown pig sells for close to Rs. 40,000 in the market.
As there are many problems on earth, there are also many solutions. Maybe farmers should research more as to how to scientifically protect their pigs. These financial losses due to the death of pigs could also have been mitigated if the farmers had taken insurance for their livestock.
This article has been created as a part of the Adivasi Awaaz project, with the support of Misereor and Prayog Samaj Sevi Sanstha.