Meghalaya, a state in the Northeast of India, with its pristine lands and hilly terrain, is home to a number of naturally grown herbs and spices. Zizira, based in Shillong the capital of Meghalaya, sources select, high-value, produce directly from the farmers and reaches them to households in other states of India through our eStore.
Read our story – how our conscious business is making a difference to the community of farmers. As part of our work, we stay in touch with organizations working with farmers. The Rural Resource and Training Centre (RRTC) is one such.
Zizira’s team of explorers are always on a pursuit to discover and explore the veiled treasures of nature, seeking out naturally grown produce and rare medicinal herbs.
We venture out to investigate opportunities, to learn more about farmers and meet with experts so as to tap the agricultural potential of Meghalaya.
The explorers visited Rural Resource and Training Centre (RRTC), few hours from Shillong, in the pursuit of learning how it operates and works towards sustainable farming and assists farmers reach better standards of living.
Quick Peek into RRTC
RRTC is an independent organization registered under the Societies Registration Act of 1990. It was set up to solve the critical challenges faced by the rural population of Northeast India.
RRTC reaches out to less privileged farmers and works with them and facilitates various training programs for them, providing them with skills for organic farming, livestock management, low-cost suitable technology for agriculture, and entrepreneurship. RRTC, in keeping with its philosophy of “development through empowerment of the people”, focuses on land and other resources.
Ushered in With Nature's Goodness!
As we entered the RRTC training centre, we were ushered into a place reflecting nature at its best. Coffee shrubs growing wildly, filled with fresh ripe berries ready for harvest, a nursery with shelter tents for flower beds and saplings and, on the other side, an old beaten road meandering towards the food processing unit.
RRTC is located on a hillock in Umran, Meghalaya surrounded by a green model farm of 175 hectares.
This model farm comprises of different agricultural elements such as homestead farming, herbal garden, a nursery for floriculture and horticulture plantations. It also has a fishery, poultry, and a piggery farm. RRTC has a food processing unit too, for developing natural food products, as also a rural recreational park and scout camp.
Bee-keeping for Boosting Agricultural Production and Training Farmers
"There are about 3 types of bees reared at RRTC Apis cerana (local Indian bee), Apis mellifera and Apis dorsata. Wild bees, Apis trigona regularly come for pollen food." said Daman Lakashiang, an apiculturist at the RRTC.
RRTC offer training programs and coaches farmers on beekeeping, collecting honey and wax from the beehive and on how it could benefit their agricultural production.
"Bee venom is an excellent medicine for arthritis. Countries like Korea and Japan specifically collect this venom for treating arthritis effectively." - Daman Lakashiang, Apiculturist at RRTC.
A Small-scale Nursery Unit to Train Farmers
RRTC maintains a mixed nursery unit with a combination of flowers, fruits, and forest plants. Farmers are educated on how a nursery should be managed. Farmers are also taught which combination of soil works best for seedlings to grow and the benefits of using plant hormones.
"The soil for seeding should always be under a shed, excess water must be controlled with optimum porosity so that the soil texture is not hard, and damping is avoided. Die-bag disease can easily be controlled if water clogging is maintained. Preparation of soil = 1: 1: 1 ratio of soil composition comprising of vermi compost, laterite soil and sand, respectively. Plant hormones are utilized as a growth booster together with the soil composition. Here at RRTC plant hormone called roton is used, which comes in three variation Grade 1 for softwood, Grade 2 for semi hardwood and Grade 3 for hardwood. These variations are applied applied per the needs of the different parts of the plant.", Nursery worker at RRTC.
Model Village Project (Family unit) for Farmers
RRTC has a model village within its campus that shows farmers how to make the best use of every bit of land they own. This model village comprises of a house with a cowshed, pigsty, and a pond for rearing fishes. RRTC uses this for practical training sessions, to train farmers on how to use sustainable methods of farming such as crop rotation, natural pest control using crops and apiculture for cross-pollination.
Techniques for sustainable water- management, such as rainwater harvesting, are also shared with the farmers.
"We make farmers aware that crops such as radish, potatoes and turnips absorb a lot of nutrition from the soil, which is why these crops must be rotated with leguminous plants such as beans, for maintaining soil fertility.", Nursery worker at RRTC.
RRTC is indeed an organization that helps farmers foster a sense of optimism and hope, that they can improve their livelihood while following sustainable development. It offers a support system for farmers by generating awareness, skill development and collaborating with them for their greater good. If you know of any sustainable farming techniques let us know in the comment section!