Manipur to become leading organic producer in the country

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If efforts of farmers in the hills of Manipur pay off well, Manipur would soon be a leading organic producer in the country. In a state whose landmass is around 92 % hilly and well suited for horticulture, change is a sure thing when 30,000 hill farmers have gone organic.
Before the end of 2016, six organic producing companies will come up in the state, comprising 500 farmers each. Depending on suitably of locations, these companies would produce high value organic oranges, lemons, pineapples, turmeric, ginger and the hot, aromatic king chilly.
Playing a revolutionary role in this transformation is MOMA, the short form of Manipur Organic Mission Agency. Instituted as the nodal agency for the central scheme – Mission Organic Value Chain Development for the North Eastern Region – of the Union Ministry of Agriculture and Farmers Welfare, MOMA functions under the aegis of department of Horticulture & Soil Conservation, government of Manipur. Initially 3000 hectares in the 6 hill districts of Manipur is being covered under the scheme.
“We’ve chosen the 6 hill districts because we believe that in these places, the farming practice is still organic by default and we can get the organic certification quite easily. We also cover 6 crops and one of them is king chilly, also known Umorok in Manipuri language. Starting from providing all the planting materials upto value added processing; the dept of horticulture & soil conversation will give all the technical know-how and will also undertakes monitoring and overcoming problems face by the farmers”, informed Asst Agriculture Officer L Gibit Singh, who was on a field monitoring trip, inspecting king chilly plantation at Sarirakhong village in Ukhrul district.
Situated in western Ukhrul, Sarirakhong is a village famous for its potatoes and a special local chilly variety, known as ‘hathei’ in local Tangkhul dialect. Located, around 80 kms from Imphal and lying at an alleviation of over 1100 metres from mean sea level, its temperature ranging from 15-25 degree celsius is ideal growing condition of king chilly.
Primarily a farming village, Sarirakhong has a population of about 1400. Even before the horticulture dept approached the villagers to grow king chilly, most of them had started experimenting with the crop for its high cash yielding value. Unfortunately, their venture hadn’t succeeded due to lack of scientific pest management know-how.
“I used to grow potatoes and our local chilly ‘hathei’ and from that income maintain my family. To increase my earnings, I had shifted to growing king chilly. Unfortunately, we’ve countered some plant health issues. Meanwhile the horticulture dept has come to our village with an organic scheme. Before we used chemicals but now they have introduced organic pesticides and other know-how to treat virus affected plants. We’re hoping going organic will help our cause”, said Ngaranmi Seranao, 63, Sarirakhong, king chilly farmer.
Officer from Plant Health Clinic of the Dept of Agriculture, Government of Manipur, S Imocha Singh and his team inspecting newly grown king chilly fields found plants affected by virus as well as pest. While he instructed the farmers to get rid of the virus affected plants as soon as it is noticed to prevent further infection, the plant health officer suggested organic pesticides for pest infection.
“The farmers are facing problems of pest control that cause plant diseases. So we’re giving them organic pesticide and insecticides”, said 51 year old farmer Huirenphang Zimik. He is someone who has done exceptionally well in Sirarakhong’s local chilly, ‘hathei’.
Recently he had also taken to growing king chilly in the hope of increasing his annual income. Now after interaction with the officers from horticulture dept, he is certain that going organic is the future of farming.
“I used to grow our local chilly called hathei but when I came to know about the scheme of growing organic king chilly , I opted for it as it is more beneficial for heath, do not degrade our farmland as well as produces better crop yields. They’ve taught us the know-how involved and if we follow them well, I’m confident our farming product will be in great demand. I would like to thank the dept for this scheme”.
After the field trip the officers handed over organic pesticides and insecticides and explained know-how on pest and disease management to 5 leaders who would then train the rest of the farmers.
“Last month we did a consultation with the organic mission group. We learn so much from it. We heard that organic products are better of our health and are in greater demand in the market. But we lacked the know-how of how organic farming particularly, about organic pesticides, insecticides etc. Now that we have learnt, we’re going organic and want to become the first organic producing village in the state”, said a excited women farmer, Nganthang Zimik.
Now with the keen support from the dept, the villagers are hoping their pest problem will be effectively dealt with and their dreams of economic progress realized.
Under the organic mission, 60,000 king chilly plants have been planted in 100 hectares in Sarirakhong by 500 farmers of the village. Each plant would normally yield minimum 250 aromatic chillies. Each chilly would on the average fetch about Rs 5 – Rs 10 depending on the season.
The six organic companies of Manipur will becoming fully operational organic companies after undergoing through exhaustive 3 years phase wise certification process to be conducted by competent authority.
Realizing the potential of organic farming in the North Eastern Region of the country Ministry of Agriculture and Farmer Welfare had launched the Central Sector Scheme in the states of Arunachal Pradesh, Assam, Manipur, Meghalaya, Mizoram, Nagaland, Sikkim and Tripura, during the 12th plan period. The scheme aims at development of certified organic production in a value chain mode to link growers with consumers and to support the development of entire value chain starting from inputs, seeds, certification, to the creation of facilities for collection, aggregation, processing marketing and brand building initiative.

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