Success tale of Phalee village lesson for poppy growers
– The People’s Chronicle Editorial :: January 20, 2023 –
IT’S heartening that at a time when tribal villagers in Manipur’s hill areas are being reckoned as a threat to environment, anti-thesis to afforestation programmes and abettor of illegal activities vis-a-vis relentless plantation of poppy, Phalee village in Ukhrul district is weaving tale of success in organic farming.
From a self-reliant economy and thriving kingdom in the past, according to historians’ accounts, to the present situation of heavily depending on food grains brought in from different states or from neighbouring Myanmar, Manipur has undergone transformation for the worst with contemporary problem of massive destruction of forests for poppy plantations leaving nothing to doubt that the state and its people shall have to continue struggling to see progression.
In-spite of the odds heavily stacked against the state, many shared the opinions that the dependency syndrome, which has been increasing manifold, would change to some extent in case problems besetting the farmers are looked into and addressed with minimum administrative hassle.
As such, it is invigorating that the Phalee villagers have been able to demonstrate to their hill brethren that poppy cultivation is not the only means for sustenance.
That the keenness shown by villages like Phalee as well as enterprising individuals and group of people to venture into agricultural and horticultural sectors is reaping fruit could be comprehended from Manipur Organic Mission Agency (MOMA) project director K Devdutta Sharma’s announcement to buy the harvested ginger at the rate of Rs 20 per kg and export the same along with other organic farm produce to the middle east and African countries.
Taking into account of the director’s disclosure that some companies have contacted MOMA with a demand of 2000 metric tonnes of dried ginger, it is evident that Manipur’s organic food crops now have global market and the hard working farmers need not get distracted about the earning of the poppy growing communities.
Apprehension over lack of financial and technical support from the department concerned and deficiency of basic infrastructure such as irrigation network, storage facility and roads and bridges had been the main factors for the state’s farmers hesitant to foray into large-scale organic farming.
However, with the state government assuring to extend all possible assistance for alternative source of livelihobd to the hill villagers in case poppy plantations cease coupled with the latest report of successful harvest of organic ginger cultivated by Sivathei Farmers’ Producer Company in Phalee village under the Mission Organic Value Chain Development for North Eastern Region, it is possible that the poppy growers would be convinced to grow legitimate crops in the erstwhile poppy fields.
Apart from ginger, MOMA has been periodically exporting organically grown pineapple, scented black rice and turmeric.
As it is turning out to be an important agency for increasing production of agricultural and horticultural goods in addition to bringing more farmers to the organic farming platform, MOMA could sustain its reputation as a reliable department through constant field visits and interactions with the farmers.
More success tales such as Phalee’s will also help the farmers abandon the age-old practice of using chemical fertilizers to harvest maximum financial gains out of their limited possession of cultivable land.