Horticulture For Diversification Of Agriculture —With Special Reference To Tamenglong District—

Introduction of Mushroom cultivation as an industry will be the pivotal role for employment and income generation.

Horticulture which includes fruits, vegetables, roots and tubers, mushrooms, floriculture, medicinal and aromatic plants, cashew, coconut, and oil palm has been emerging as an important sector for diversification of agriculture. Presently, horticulture has established its creditability in improving income through increasing productivity, generating employment and in enhancing export besides providing household nutritional security and livelihood option. India now stands as the second largest producer of fruits and vegetables. Horticulture has invariably improved the economic status of our farmers. The earlier seasonal availability of fruits and vegetables has now extended all the year round, increasing per capita output consumption in fruits from 40-85g and of vegetables from 96-175g.

It has also played a significant role in the women empowerment, providing employment opportunities through mushroom cultivation, floriculture, processing, nursery raising, vegetable seed production etc. The present annual growth rate of horticulture is more than 6.5%. It is contributing 24.5% from mere 8.0 of area to the Gross Domestic Product. India is now at the brink of ‘Golden Revolution’ in Horticulture with Rs 3.48 crores in fourth plan allocation which rises to Rs 1374 crores in the ninth plan.

With reference to Tamenglong

Tamenglong still remained most remote and backward in comparison with all districts in the State. About 70-80 % of its population depends on Jhum to earn their livelihood; they are poor but efficient as normally termed by TW Schultz in his thesis “Transforming Traditional Agriculture”. The process or method of cultivation is still very much primitive and results in low output, and enough environmental damage or ecological imbalance has been done for almost 6 decades. This is proved by deteriorating soil condition, birds and animals and becomes fewer in number. Virgin and thick forest of some 5-8 decades are increasingly declining all of a sudden. The ultimate solution for this would be horticulture which is the best option to make a livelihood. I would say a lifeline for development of its people by making them earned more as ‘Railway Line’ is coming up along the district very soon. Tamenglong is a land of exotic with vast land for growing various kinds of fruits, vegetables, flowers, and has large production of spices too like cinnamon, black-pepper, turmeric, ginger, chilly, hatkora & bay leaf.

The people of Tamenglong have been gifted by nature also in the form of hundred of wild orchid’s varieties, most of which are incredibly rare. Further, some medicinal and herbs are also found in the forest for treating minor wound/injuries, bones fracture, stomach pain, swelling of muscles etc. Therefore, great attention for mass scale commercial production is the need of the hour. And also orange are grown almost in the entire village for self-consumption which need to be enlarged to make a living especially for the marginal farmers and poor family.

To encourage the orange growers every year Orange Festival is organized in Nov – Dec in Tamenglong town. Prof Gangmumei also describes Tamenglong as the abode of Bamboos or Hamlet, in fact, many varieties of bamboo and cane with its valuable products are abundantly found. Since time immemorial people lived in Bamboo hut, they eat bamboo shoot, with bamboo they make basket, mat for beating paddy and for winnowing fan etc. And also there has been a widespread consciousness to seek alternative means of income generating or occupation activities in the form of horticultural activities like planting more oranges, papaya, parkia, mango, jackfruit, plum, tea, and so on. Emphasis should be given on plantation of rubber and teak along with more of indigenous varieties of bamboos. Though teak is one time harvest yet it is very rewarding. However, it needs heat and sandy soil.

Ideally, rubber is perhaps the best alternative as this would give income around the year, year after year and has propensity of generating various employment opportunities throughout the year. For Instance, tea if taken up systematically would be the best alternative covering maximum population. Mr. Young, British SDO introduced tea in Tamenglong which produced fine quality product, tea broker at Darjeeling are willing to pay Rs 1000 per KG if supply were made in viable quantity those times. In Manipur, the annual production of fruits and vegetables during 2003 and 2004 is 2.22 lakh MT and 0.57 lakh MT respectively.

The cultivation of horticulture is by and large practiced as non­commercial enterprise by farmers in their homestead and orchard. But in recent years, cultivation of horticulture crops like pineapple, potato, cabbage, cauliflower, tapioca, sweet potato, melon, water melon etc and vegetables are being developed on commercial scale in many places as per the reports made by NHB along with the Department of Horticulture and Soil Conservation, Manipur.

Manipur has identified 2, 22, 06 ha. A potential area for horticultural activities and for Tamenglong is 38,167ha. This shows only 8.7% of the total geographical areas is being utilized. This fact is evidence that many natural resources are still left untapped/unexploited. Therefore, I draw the attention of the people of Tamenglong in particular and other hills districts to transform these resources in a sustainable way to make progress and advancement in living standard of our people. Come and join hand in raising the Oriental Saying ‘Where the vision is on year, cultivate flowers. Where the vision is ten years, cultivate trees. Where the vision is eternity, cultivate people.

*The article is written by Philip Kamei.

(Courtesy: The Sangai Express)

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