Zizira is a food products company that operates from Shillong, the capital of Meghalaya in the Northeast part of India – a region known for its verdant landscape, natural springs that irrigate fields, and unique herbs and spices. Over 80% of the population depend on agriculture but struggle to market their produce. Zizira is striving to open markets for them.
Most of the farmers in Meghalaya follow natural farming methods. Though these are as good as organic, there are universal norms for what can be considered organic farming methods.
There is a national push toward organic farming in India. Government of Meghalaya too is promoting organic farming methods. The then Chief Minister of the State of Meghalaya, Dr. Mukul Sangma, launched a new initiative called ‘Mission Organic’ in January 2015.
Mr. Canning Shabong, Asst. Director of Agriculture, Meghalaya, spoke to the Zizira team about the commitment of the Government to promote organic farming.
Following Organic Farming Methods had been a Tradition in Meghalaya
"Since time immemorial, farming in Meghalaya is Organic by tradition and has been practiced by our farmers and the farming community for ages" - Canning Shabong
If so, when did the use of chemical fertilizers start? We do know that Govt. of Meghalaya used to even subsidize chemical fertilizers, as did many other States in India. But, the subsidy was stopped in Meghalaya in 2014, to encourage the farmers to go organic.
Organic Farming Methods being tested in Nongpoh
Talking about organic, we have first-hand information to share with you based on our field visit to the Office of the Department of Horticulture in Nongpoh, in the Ri Bhoi district, one of the eleven districts of Meghalaya.
As part of our effort to learn all about the farming traditions of Meghalaya through field visits, a team from Zizira went to the Horticulture Department in Nongpoh in early April 2015. They met with the District Horticulture Officer, Mrs A. B. Lyngdoh. A piece of exciting news was that:
The Department has a farm very close to the office of the Horticulture Department in Nongpoh, where they are experimenting with organic farming methods using organic fertilizers and bio-pesticides.
Other updates the team gathered from Mrs Lyngdoh are:
- Nongpoh is very fertile and grows plenty of fruits like mangoes, papayas and bananas.
- The farmers in this area follow organic farming methods and cultivate organic pineapple, ginger and turmeric in plenty
- The Horticulture Department is taking several initiatives to promote organic farming methods, to lead the way in research and development, so as to help farmers in the district.
- The Department had taken the initiative to show the farmers that cultivation of vegetables can reap good results even without the use of chemical fertilizers.
- To field test the results of organic farming, the Horticulture Department in Ri-Bhoi used organic methods to grow cabbage, fresh peas, potatoes and fresh beans in their Umwang Seed Production Farm. They discovered that there is an increase in production as compared to when chemical fertilizers were used!
- The Horticulture Department is encouraging farmers to use Bio-fertilizers.
The sincere efforts being made at this horticulture station seems to be a testimony to the intentions of the Govt. of Meghalaya.
Visit the District Agricultural Office in Nongpoh
Adjacent to the Horticulture office in Nongpoh is the office of the District Agricultural Department. The Zizira team met with Mr S.K. Riahtam, the Public Information Officer of this Department.
The Agricultural Department supports farmers in the area of rice, maize seeds, mustard seeds and wheat grain cultivation. Mr Riahtam said, “The Government of Meghalaya is encouraging farmers to go organic, without using any chemical pesticides and medicines.”
Interested in being the first to taste our dehydrated, organically produced pineapple? Want to know how to support the hard-working farmers of Meghalaya? Contact us.