Monday, June 24, 2024
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Soh Sohra shines at Orange Festival

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By Our Reporter

 SHILLONG: The residents of Shillong got to taste and experience distinct local oranges which were on display at the Orange Festival 2012. The one-day orange festival conducted as part of celebrating the year of Horticulture attracted fruit lovers who had a slice of local oranges famously known as the Khasi Mandarin.

A variety of local oranges brought from different parts of the state were on display at the festival.

More than hundred teams participated from different parts of the state took part at the festival, with an inflow of more than 25,000 oranges. The so-called ‘Soh Sohra’ or Cherra Orange grown in orchards from the sub-tropical Ri-War region in the southern slopes of Sohra and has derived its credibility of being the best at the festival.

Additional Chief Secretary PBO Warjri has emphasized on the need to preserve the Khasi Mandarin since this variety of oranges is available only in our State.

“The Khasi Mandarin is facing some kind of a threat with many of the orchard farmers have started to purchase orange saplings from other parts of the country especially from Assam,” Warjri said while speaking at the inaugural function of the Orange Festival here on Thursday.

He said that there is an urgent need to create awareness among the local orchard farmers about the need to preserve the locally available saplings.

According to Warjri, the local farmers should realize on the fact that the Khasi Mandarin is famous across the globe.

Meanwhile, he informed that the State government has also taken up the challenge of producing local orange saplings in large quantity.

It has been informed that the Government is coming up with a plantation hub in the East Khasi Hills district which would produce orange saplings and orchids on a large scale.

According to official sources, locally available sapling costs around Rs 15 and the government is providing the same to farmers at a subsidized rate of Rs 7 per sapling.

A sapling from other parts of the country costs Re 1 which attracts the local formers, official sources added.

Meanwhile, Warjri also expressed concern on the problem face by the local orchard farmers to market their oranges.

‘It is extremely difficult for the farmers to transport their oranges to other parts of the country due to the distance. The farmers would have to take the oranges all the way to Assam before exporting them to Kolkata. Therefore, the whole transaction is not economic viable,” he said.

According to Additional Chief Secretary, the local orchard farmers were doing a good business before since they were able to directly export the oranges to Bangladesh.

“But after the border was sealed, the farmers could no longer export the oranges. The farmers now have to depend totally on the local market to sell their produce,” Warjri said while adding that only a small quantity of orange is being exported at present.

However, Warjri informed that the State is producing 40,000 tonnes of oranges annually and the total area of 17,000 hectares is being used for plantation across the State.

“This figure on the area where there is plantation might be a bit smaller considering that there is no plantation in Resulbelpara in Garo Hills,” he said.

The best oranges hails from Nongsteng, Mawphu, Umblai, Kunongrim, Mawkliaw and other adjoining villages in the Sohra region. Also in Pynursla region the oranges from Wahkhen, Nongblai, Shuhim, Nongkwai, Mynre, Nohwet, Umnuih Tmar, Nongjri and Pynter. Oranges grown in the Mawkynrew areas of Nongjrong, Nongryngkoh and Mawlat as well as those grown in moderate plantation at Garo Hills and some parts of West Khasi Hills and Ri-Bhoi region were on display.

Apart from showcasing the distinct Khasi Mandarin oranges, some agro products with emphasis on citrus fruits were also on displayed.

To enlighten the spirit of the visitors and fruit lovers, folk and modern musical extravaganza featuring various local artists added to the beauty of the festival.

It may be mentioned here that the aim of the festival is to promote and showcase the famous local oranges well known by the name Khasi Mandarin which is grown abundantly in the Khasi Hills and the Jaintia Hills. Besides it also aimed at capacity building and empowerment to farmers and local leaders on the tremendous benefits that can be acquired through orange farming.

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