Horticulture in Meghalaya – Good Plans on Paper
While many of us are coming to realize that horticulture in Meghalaya has great potential, how many know that the state is home to a number of excellent organizations that support agricultural and horticultural activities? One such is Meghalaya Basin Development Authority (MBDA), which was set up in March 2013 to implement the Integrated Basin Development and Livelihood Promotion Programme (IBDLP) of the Govt. of Meghalaya.
You can read an earlier post of ours on MBDA. In fact the Zizira team has met with a lady farmer Bernadethe who was all praise for the support MBDA officials provided her. Organizations like these that help horticulture in Meghalaya need to be supported and celebrated and this post is a small step to do just that.
MBDA has been publishing a series of reports under the title ‘In conversation with the people of Meghalaya’. We bring you the highlight of their publication on Horticulture which came out in Jan. 2015. The report starts by highlighting the climatic and geographical conditions of Meghalaya which are conducive to growing a variety of horticultural and agricultural produce and points out the success stories:
The State has also made a successful foray into high value low volume crops, of which strawberry is a shining example. High value vegetables, like broccoli and colored capsicum have also been introduced in the state and doing exceptionally well. Crops like rose, lilium, anthuriums, carnations, etc., have also made a mark.
Trend Is a Shift Towards Horticulture From Agriculture
The total cropped area can be classified broadly into agriculture and horticulture crops. Cereals, pulses and oilseeds are considered agricultural. Rest will be horticultural. There was a shift towards horticulture in the state of Meghalaya in the decade from 1999-2000 to 2010-2011 - the area under horticulture went up from 42% to 53%.
Meghalaya is Pushing Organic
Meghalaya is organic by tradition says the report, on top of which:
The State Government, through the Directorate of Horticulture, is devising a strategy to promote organic horticulture farming in a big way. It has already initiated organic certification for selective crops like pineapple, ginger, turmeric, cashewnut, vegetables and tea by delineating specific organic zones.
Trends in Growth Rate of Area & Production
Here is a graph from the publication, showing the annual growth rate of area and production for various crops in the decade from 1999-2000 to 2010-11. Noteworthy is the growth in production of Cashew – which has gone up by 12%, though the area has gone up only by around 3%.
Would the farmers growing cashew nut have benefited? Zizira will find out by talking to them. Again, note how the Bay leaf production is down, so also the area. The report also gives details of the area and production of a few of the horticultural produce of Meghalaya.
Interventions by the Directorate of Horticulture
The report lists a series of efforts by the Directorate of Horticulture to help farmers:
- Popularising the use of greenhouse technology, poly-houses, drip and micro irrigation system, water harvesting structures and soil-less culture.
- Dissemination of Technologies for Post-harvest management, value addition, processing and marketing is being carried out across the state.
- Plans are there to set up Cold Chains and Refer Vans based supply system to create better market access for the produce.
- Horti Hubs are also being set up in each district of the State. These will function on a hub and spoke model within an area of 10-15 Km radius. These Horti Hubs will help in creating homogeneous horticulture clusters and provide the requisite handholding for the farmers.
Time for Zizira explorers to find out more about Horti hubs. The plan is to have one horticultural hub in each district to supply quality planting material and extension of marketing services and support horticulture in Meghalaya.
Land Availability for Horticultural Development – Interesting Facts
- Area under forests is higher than area under cultivation of any kind.
- 9.46 lakh hectares is forested.
- Net area sown is 2.83 lakh hectares
- Interestingly 7.69 lakh hectares is available for conversion into productive use! This comprises fallow land, cultivable waste and area under miscellaneous tree crops.
The land available for conversion is a huge natural resource available to the state, at least on paper, is it not? Did you know?
Community controls 88.1% of the forest area, not the Government. Only reserved forests of 1.13 lakh hectares is with the Forest Department.
The report has a section on a state-of-the-art Intelligent Advisory System for Farmers, to support horticulture in Meghalaya, and in the whole of Northeast India.
We will cover it in another blog post. Meghalaya Basin Development Authority is an organization to watch. We will bring you updates. They have well thought out plans to boost production but, as the report puts it nicely, farmers need help with marketing!
The Horticulture Mission for North Eastern & Himalayan States could help in area expansion, but it has a little impact on marketing and processing activities. There is a scope for interventions in this direction along with area and production augmentation, says this report.
Zizira hopes to step in and help. Do you have any questions? Any suggestions? Do you have any information or news about organizations like MBDA that are helping farmers? Please add them as comments. Let us come together to make the Northeast farmers famous.