Prospect of sustainable development in Jiribam and Pherzawl districts

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Lalthangvung Songate
Due to rapid depletion of our land resources and environment and slow replenishment of them, Sustainable Development is urgently needed to be taken in our rural development Schemes and for the mitigation of Global warming. By Sustainable Development we mean, Development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generation to meet their own needs. Dr. M.S. Swaminathan, the then Director General of ICAR, and father of Green Revolution in India, called it “ Evergreen Revolution.” It is the way to harness our natural resources without harming the lots of generation yet to come.
As the two adjacent districts,Jiribam and pherzawl are the lowest part of the State Manipur, having the same agro-climatic condition and long socio-environment and political attachment where development Schemes can be formulated as a single Zone in developing infrastructure and same cropping pattern and silvi-agriculture system. The two districts can be convenientlyput under one Pilot Zone to foster development through Sustainable Development Project.

Past and Present Economic Scenario
In the past from about 1880 to 1958 cash crops mainly comprised cotton sesame, upland rice and orange. Collection of wild rubber and agar wood from forest isalso done in small Scale. Logging along the Barak and its tributaries is carried on by non-locals with elephants.
Multiple cropping of sesame, Cotton, early variety of upland rice, pumpkin and taro( Kochu) in the same plot is practiced in Jhuming. After rice is harvested at September and early October, the stalks are removed to facilitate the growth of cotton and sesame and they are harvested on December. The region is also known for its Orange Orchards up to 1970s. Due to the presence of Navigation River, Barak, the people of the area are far more advance in money making by commercial farming for decades.

Certain changes takeplace in composition of Cash Crop since 1960s, Ginger become the most important cash crop in spite of unexpected price fluctuation in the market and in nature’s gamble in fungal infestation. Extraction of bamboo and timber is done in large scale along the Barak and its tributaries.Since 1990s collection of wild broomsticks become the main source of income next to ginger and timber and large areas are planted under broomsticks from the last four (4) years and the era of cotton is gone.

Local Balance of Trade
The overall account of import and export of a country is balance of trade. If import exceed over export it is called unfavorable balance of trade and if export exceed it is favorable. In the local level the total value of agriculture and forest products exported will not lag behind the essential items imported to the districts especially Pherzawl District, unlike other Districts of Manipur.

Tipaimukh at the confluence of Barak and Tuivairiver is a busy trade center. It is a small river port of centuries with large hinterland on both Manipur and Mizoram.

Climate
Except the hill range tops where moderate climate is enjoyed all the year round and most of villages nestle on them, the rest have hot wet climate with long growing season that help quick replenishment of all kinds of vegetation, once cleared for Jhuming and logging for sale.

Forest Resources
The Forest in these two Districts is mainly Evergreen tropical type with sparsely scattered deciduous type of trees. Some of the species are ironwood, myrobalam (haritaki), Gamhar( White Teak), dampa (leihau), Gawndrawi, Tula, Rata, Mohidawl, Banyan, Zalna, Puma( teiren) Cham, ramdala,etc. in the lower altitude, and chestnut, walnut, Buanchum and sal are found in the higher altitudes. Trees having heartwood beneath the sapwood are durable for building materials. Some species such as tula, banyan and semal have no heartwood, they are of inferior quality unless they were seasoned.

Bamboo forest, predominantly of Melocanabaccifera type, covers the area about 60% of the land. Other giant bamboo(grove type) covers some areas.

As development, environment protection and mitigation of global warming to go hand in hand is the need of our time, proper management of forest is indispensable with development process especially in the hills.

Some suggestions for forest and plantation management:
1. Removable of Un-economic species and replacement with more economic one. This method of forest management is already practiced many years back in Japan.
2. Belt or linetree planting should aim at minimizing the reduction of land for Jhumming and plantation crops. As planting of more trees is necessary for mitigation of global warming, but the larger we put under forest, the lesser the area for Jhumming and plantation of crops. At the same time giving away with Jhumming is a far cry for the area and Jhumming products are more and more valued for they are mainly organic product.

To minimize the reduction of Jhumming and plantation crops area due to forestation, belt or line- planting is the most advisable means.

In each belt three to four lines of tree at a minimum distances should be planted. Each belt should be wide apart,100 meters to 200 meter or more according to the convenience of the topography. In this way large number of trees can be planted with minimum reduction of land for crops.

The roadside plantation on Teddim Road to the south of Bishnupurjust near petrol pump is a mind-opening because just beside the belt of numerous trees there’s a room for Paddy field. In belt plantation the number of trees can be maximized with minimum reduction for crops. The belt of trees can also be acted as wind breaker for the plantation crops.

3. Plantation of quick growing species with maximum quality and least affected by forest fire such as Gamhar, Buanchum etc. are most preferable for the areas between the belt have to be used for Jhumming. Occasional thining of bush should also be practiced. Broomstick plantation can be advisable because it can be a good source of income with minimum effort. For broomstick plantation one should keep in mind that the quickest and the easiest way of harvesting is to take more important than the yield per acre. To this end line plantation with 4 feet apart from plant to plant and 8 feet apart from line to line is advisable.

Plantation of Crops
The hot and wet climate favours the growth of different fruits but over-production always taken place due to easy way of production and weak purchasing power of local people and lack of good transportation system and storage facilities.

Moreover, unlike temperate regions products like wheat, meat, milk and cheese, fruits are not much of our daily needs, it is necessary items only for few rich people.

For sustainable development, plantation of cash crop will be done with the aim in view that over-production and depletion of natural resources will not cause in the process. Which items will be produced without fearing over-production and unforseeable competition is the most important point for deliberation. In view of the above mentioned view point the following cash Crops plantation seems to be most advisable.

1. Arecanut Plantation: The total product of arecanut in India in 2014-15 was about 745 Lakh tons. It is only two-third of the country’s requirement. It is imported from Sri Lanka, Malaysia, Nepal and Myanmar. Even if itis grown in all the suitable land of the two districts, no over-production will happened.

Eventhough Arecanut plantation a long-term process, bearing nut seven years after, banana, broomsticks and cardamom can help compensatethe expenses and as shading Crops. For successful arecanut plantation, other factors remain the same; seed selection is to be taken as top priority.

The palms of forty or more years old bearing nuts earlier and better in compare with other are selected. Searching through internet recently found that 15-30 years old with good bearing capacity, is also recommended.

As arecanutpalm is susceptible to strong wing, tree or bamboo should be planted in belts for wind breakers at a distant interval enough to shield the plants. The yield of arecanut per acre is 10 quintals for white and 7 quintals for red Variety.

(To be Contd)

Source: The Sangai Express