Come with us as we make our way to Sohryngkham, a village where almost every family grows plums! You will meet one of them, a second generation farmer, Ms. Wanjun Kharpran. You will also know about the help the government has given, so these farmers and their plums may flourish.
Sohryngkham Is the Home to Meghalaya Organic Plums
About Sohryngkham village Before we introduce you to Wanjun, let me tell you about the village.
- Interestingly this village is said to be the largest in Asia in terms of size and area
- Sohryngkham is 22 km southeast of Meghalaya’s capital city of Shillong. It took the Zizira team one hour to reach.
The team only knew that this village grew a lot of plums, but did not know any farmer there. The team members went around the village visiting plum orchards and felt extremely lucky to have met hardworking farmer Wanjun. Over to Wanjun.
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It was harvest season and Wanjun was, expectedly, very busy. But, she took time to show the team around her farm and to answer questions. Wanjun told us that she had been farming from a very young age, because her parents were farmers too. She grows four varieties of plums – Alpha, Santa Rosa, Japanese and Doris.
Luscious Japanese Plums of Meghalaya (Photo Credit: Team Zizira)
How did she get the seeds or saplings?
The plum saplings are provided free of cost by the Department of Agriculture, Meghalaya,” she explained. “They are easy to grow – all they need is periodical pruning. In about three and-a-half years the saplings grow into mature trees and are ready to bear fruit. The season for plums is from May to August. The fruits in my orchard are totally organic – I do not spray or use any pesticides or other chemicals,” said Wanjun proudly.
So was she happy with the returns? Wanjun was quick to respond with a glowing face:
Yes. I am able to take care of my family needs and more."She is happy, but we found that there is a catch: perhaps she is not aware of her potential; maybe she has not been able to realize her price point. Let me tell you why. Wanjun takes her produce to Iewduh (also called Bara Bazaar) in Shillong where buyers and sellers meet.
"The price I get depends on the market. This year the market was not good compared to the previous year. I never sell them by weight, but by volume - in a cone basket" said Wanjun That is an interesting fact that you should know Did you know?
How Much Did She Get?
The farmers in Meghalaya sell produce by volume? The measure being a cane cone basket known as Khoh in Khasi?This year Wanjun got between ₹ 200 to ₹ 500 for one cane cone basket of plums (approximately 17 Kgs of plums). This translates to around ₹ 12 to ₹ 29 for a Kilo of plums. The volume sales means that the farmer has to push his/her wares before they perish. “The shelf life of plums are around 4 days. Once I harvest, I have to sell them. I cannot keep them for long. There are times that I have to sell them at a much lower price,” Wanjun explained.
But how does the price vary for the ultimate buyer? At the time of publishing this blog post we could buy plums in the Shillong market for Rs 50 a kilo, except Santa Rosa, which is a premium variety and was selling for Rs 120 a kilo! Yes, you read it right – Santa Rosa sells for more than double the price of other varieties.
The Price GapThis price variation got us thinking. Considering the low shelf life of plums, do you think farmer Wanjun got a reasonable price for varieties other than Santa Rosa? Maybe she really can get a better price. We would love to hear from you. Do write and tell us your opinion on:
- How do you think farmers such as Wanjun could get better returns?
- Would she get a better price if she could package the fruits well and ship them out to consumers in other cities of India?
- Or if she could tie up with manufacturers of Jams or prunes?