Meghalaya is a state which is rich in natural resources, be it from flora to fauna to the mineral resources, the state has it in abundance. Agriculture, including crop and animal husbandry, fisheries, forestry and agro processing constitutes the very basis of socio economic lives of India. One of the major activities in the state is cultivation of horticulture crops which includes that of Ginger and Turmeric. Ginger is being predominantly grown in Ri Bhoi District while almost the whole belt of Jaintia Hills, the best quality of Turmeric found in the whole country with the reported cucurmin content up to 7.6%. However amidst plenty of what we have, there are too many missing links in between for the state to realize the full potential in terms of commercial activities in revenues and most importantly to address the issues of the farmers to increase the income for better livelihoods in the villages.
Therefore the market access team from MBDA along with the staffs of Appropriate Technology India (ATI) made a visit to some of the important cultivation belt of ginger and turmeric of Ri Bhoi District and West Jaintia Hills District for assessment of production which includes cultivation practices as well as understanding the organic practices for the potential of organic certification for premium pricing of the products, post harvesting and processing aspects as well as marketing aspects for improving livelihood security in the state.
The visit was spanned in six days and within these six days; the program was conducted in the following order:
12th February 2013
On this day the team comprising of three interns from MBDA and five ATI workforce under the supervision of Mr Iai Majaw, the Horticulture Officer with the Government of Meghalaya, left Shillong at around 10 AM and visited the Ginger belt of Ri Bhoi District. Firstly we visited the farm house which is located next to the Highway to Guwahati at Umsning. There we met and interacted with around twenty five ginger cultivators in and around Umsning. These villages are located within the distance of 1 to 3 kilometers from Umsning. The farmers start sowing ginger from the last week of April throughout the month of May. We came to know that they inherited the ginger cultivation practices from their fore fathers seeing that the climate is conducive for the crop to thrive and that there is a market for all of their produce from year to year. The main area of concern for them is that, the plant is frequently getting infected with root and stem rotting, thus spoiling their effort in time and money. Stem rot is more frequent than root rot and occurs in between the months of June to September. They don’t have any solution to tackle these kind of infections, the only activity that they do is to uproot the whole crop and throw it as far as possible from the cultivation land and sometimes even burning that particular crop but it seldom help the cause as the infection will start to spread to the whole row and even at times the whole field. They practiced Jhum cultivation with the belief that it softens the soil and helps in the ploughing activity. They also have a fair idea of the reason behind crop rotation and practiced it once in 3 years. They do give manure to the crop once in a while in the form of poultry, pig and cow droppings. They said that they have received training from the horticulture officers but most of the time they apply those methods being taught to them in the beginning phase but revert back to their traditional method of cultivation. They stored the seed in a proper way and have no problem with the occurrence of seed spoilage before the cultivation period.
The nearest market for them is the Umsning market which is being held once a week. At the weekly market, traders which are middle men come to purchase their crop at rates of 1,100 – 1,200 rupees per 40 kgs which is a standard...