Pineapple growers of Hmarkhawlein for betterdeals

SILCHAR, June 26: The pineapple growers of Hmarkhawlein in the Lakhipur sub-division of Cachar have demanded better deals from the State Government in order to provide more incentives to them for the cash crop which grows in abundance in the area. In fact, around 1000 Hmar families are dependent on pineapples for their sustenance and survival and this cash crop isa contributor towards the economic development of Barak Valley as a whole. Hmarkhawlein has emerged as an important centre for the plantation of pineapplesand its commercial trade. Way back in the 60's and 70's, pineapples from here were exported to Russia.
According to Emmanuel Hmar, a pineapple grower ofthe area, around 120 crore pineapples are grown in summer and winter sessions. While the production comes down in winter, the demand remainsthe same. Nilomoni Sen Deka, Minister of Agriculture,who along with the chairman of Barak Valley HillTribes Development Council, Lalthamlien Neitham, went round the pineapple fields of lower Labankhal, Labankhal, Molong, Digar Fulertal, Hmarkhawlein, Kalampunji, Cherapunji and Sonbari having in all 1072 gardens, saw for himself themethod and technology adopted by the planters. Theminister was briefed about the varieties of pineapples and the labour and money that went into their growth.
It was explained by LT Hmar,also a planter, that the greatest quality of pineapple was that it grew in its own way without the use of fertilizer, pesticides and insecticides. It was a natural growth, he pointed out. All that it needed was pruning, trimming and cleansing of the shrubs around in order to keep its growth free and unhindered. This had to be done three times before andafter plantation with close watch on its growth. This method would make the fruit not only tasty but also good in quality. He asked forsubsidies from the horticulture department as the pineapple cultivation was quite costly and the profit of margin left for them was not satisfactory.
Nilomoni Sen Deka visited these pineapple gardens on Sunday and was impressed by the hard work being done by the Hmars of the areas to keep alive the tradition of producing good variety of the crop. Both Emmanuel and LT Hmar said besides profuse demand of pineapples across Barak Valley, the fruits were also inhigh demand in other parts of the State. But, he regretted that the traders from Mizoram and Tipaimukh taking advantage of the reputationof Hmarkhawlein mixed up the products of their areas with that of Hmarkhawlein and sold them as such.
Pointing out their problem of storage in view of the production of pineapples, it was their demand that a cold storage should be setupin the area. They also said that a fruit processing factory could also be considered in order to produce juice-concentrate with pineapple. The ministerof agriculture taking note ofthe demands said a decisionhad been taken to have a cold storage on the plot of land of the pineapple factory at Fulertal, now defunct. A project report on the setting up of a factory would be prepared and discussed at a meeting with the Chief Minister, Tarun Gogoi, on July 3. He invited Dinesh Prasad Goala, MLA of the area and Parliamentary secretary, and Lalthamlien Neitham, chairman of Barak Valley Hill Tribes Development Committee, at the meeting and he expected a positive outcomeof the discussions in the larger interest of the pineapple growers. (SentinelAssaw)

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