Saturday, March 2, 2024

ICAR to shift focus on Sohra

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 Research organisation encourages new agricultural adaptation strategies

By Our Reporter

 Shillong: Taking cognizance of the drastic change in the ecology of Sohra, agricultural scientists of the Indian Council of Agricultural (ICAR) Research Complex for NEH Region are now trying to conduct research and studies on the agricultural products of this area while encouraging people to adopt different agro-eco activities.

“It is high time for us to regain the glory of Sohra by changing the mindset of the people towards agriculture and it is important for the people to retain and revisit indigenous knowledge”, local MLA Dr PW Khongjee said.

The once wettest place, Sohra (Cherrapunjee) famous for its oranges and other fruits has now undergone a radical ecological transformation with climatic changes taking a toll on the quality and quantity of fruits grown and also other food products.

Stating the reason behind the diminishing agricultural activities in this part of the state, Dr Khongjee said heavy rain and hailstorm are the greatest enemies of the farmers of Sohra coupled with the invasion of cement and coal industries.

Dr Khongjee was addressing the one-day seminar, ‘Technological options in livelihood security for the tribal farmers’ organised by ICAR in collaboration with the Khat-ar Shnong Socio-Organisation (KSO), Sohra at St. John Bosco Shrine Auditorium, Sohra on Friday.

Stating that almost 80 percent of the population of Meghalaya comprises of farmers, chief minister Dr Mukul Sangma said there is need to increase the per capita income of every person to raise the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of the State thereby stabilizing its economy.

“There is a need to include proper investment strategies in the farming sector”, Dr Sangma said adding that farmers should be ready to learn new technologies to become competent.

Convergence is the order of the day, said Dr Sangma adding that it should not be restricted to government departments alone. “It should include the masses”, he said.

The chief minister also expressed concern over the steady decline in per capita land holding. “Per capita income and consequent purchasing power are increasing in the state and therefore, a stable market supply of variety of foods would be required in the state”, he said.

Meanwhile, former chief minister and MLA of Shella Constituency Dr Donkupar Roy while referring to distribution of inputs to the farmers as a generous gesture has asked the scientists to keep a close watch into the farming methodology adopted in the Sohra-Shella constituencies.

He also asked the people not only to be happy with being given free inputs but to use them in a way which could benefit them in the future and generate income from them in various ways.

Farmers from 60 villages from the Sohra area and 45 scientists from ICAR participated in the programme and interacted in the Farmer – Scientist interactive session. Inputs like seeds of improved varieties of crops, planting material, fish seed, piglets and poultry were distributed to 1000 farmers.

Emu, the flightless bird native to Australia and famously known to operate in pairs with the male singularly loyal to the female bird was a big attraction to the farmers.

Two Emu birds were distributed to two farmers. The Emu is useful because apart from the meat every part of its body from the feathers, eggs and toenails are used as creative jewellery and fashion items.

Others dignitaries present at the function included Syiem of Sohra Freeman Singh Syiem, SDO Sohra James Suchiang, MDC Shella TS Dkhar, MDC Sohra Titos Dkhar, Deputy commissioner of East Khasi Hills Sanjay Goyal, Additional Chief Secretary Barkos Warjri, superintendent of Police (Traffic) Herbert Lyngdoh besides other government officials.

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