The 7th Hathei Phanit (Chilli Festival) cum Farmers and Scientist Interaction was opened today at Sirarakhong and it would continue till August 27.
Speaking at the opening function, Horticulture Department Scientist Dr SS Roy highlighted the growing need for a processing unit in order to augment the income of chilli farmers of Sirarakhong and also to promote the unique variety of chilli across the world.
A processing unit would be installed at the village under a joint initiative of ICAR, KVK Ukhrul and the Department concerned.
Sirarakhong chilli has high calcium and vitamin C contents. This chilli has a unique taste and it is a good anti-oxidant.
Sirarakhong chilli, when planted at other places, loses it unique characteristics. Sirarakhong chilli is even better than Kashmir chilli when used as a colouring additive to dishes, he added.
However, very little is known about Sirarakhong chilli outside Manipur. Once the processing unit is established, Sirarakhong chilli can certainly make its way to international markets without any difficulty.
Ukhrul ADC Chairman Dr Yaronsho Ngalung, Ukhrul DC Modak Hrisheekesh, Horticulture and Soil Conservation Additional Director AS Ningmi, Tychicus Vashum of IFAD Ukhrul, MDS Administrative Officer S Ranjit, KVK Ukhrul Programme Coordinator Dr Y Rama Krishna ICAR Scientists Dr SK Sharma, N Ajit of Production Technology and Horticulture Scientist Dr SS Roy attended the opening function as presidium members.
Dr SS Roy said that Sirarakhong Chilli has also the potential to get a Geographical Indicator (GI) tag. Just like Tamenglong oranges, Kachai lemon and Siroy Lily which thrive only at specific places, Sirarakhong chilli thrives only at Sirarakhong.
Sirarakhong village chief V Wungkhayap Zimik said that chilli productivity of Sirarakhong has declined considerably as compared to the previous years.
With the villagers now realising the negative impacts of shifting cultivation on environment and ecology, they have resolved to give up the same practice and cultivate chilli and other vegetables at a permanent place.
At present, there are 85 hectares set aside for chilli cultivation and the village has set a target of expanding the chilli cultivation area to 100 hectares by next year.
The department concerned and other organisations have started imparting to Sirarakhong villagers the methods of organic farming.
The farmers would interact with scientists tomorrow and try to ascertain the reason for this season’s much reduced chilli productivity.
The village chief then expressed keen desire for the State Government to take up all possible measures so that Sirarakhong chilli gets a GI tag.
Altogether eight chilli stalls are opened at the festival.