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Oranges get attractive peel-off makeover

- Jaintia hills’ villagers unveil package on Meghalaya’s 41st birthday, new look to brighten marketing prospects

Shillong, Jan. 21: It is said that one should not judge contents by the cover. Maybe not in the case of books; but when it comes to marketing produce, looks do matter.

The orange growers of Narwan village in East Jaintia Hills unveiled an attractive package for their produce on Meghalaya’s 41st birthday today to add value in terms of marketability.

Governor Ranjit Shekhar Mooshahary did the unveiling at U Soso Tham auditorium here.

Narwan, 3km from Khliehriat, the headquarters of East Jaintia Hills district, on an average produces 70 tonnes of the fruit annually.

Narwan headman Herlington Shadap said the village has 6,986 orange trees and 3,450 people. Of the 546 families in the village, 186 are engaged in orange plantation. The fruits are plucked between January and March and then packed in bamboo baskets. But this was before the new packaging was unveiled. Now it will come in swank cardboard boxes, ready to match any international brand.

“Value addition to the product was introduced after we got in touch with state government officials, particularly after the new district was inaugurated,” Shadap said. East Jaintia Hills was one of the four districts carved out last year.

Recently, 18 villagers from Narwan were sent to Nagpur, the “orange city”, to learn more about the art of nurturing orange trees and increasing output.

Hitherto, the product has been mostly marketed in places like Khliehriat and Sutnga. Buyers come from Karimganj in Assam and Bangladesh as well, Shadap said.

“We believe value addition will enhance the marketability of the oranges. We hope Narwan oranges will travel far and wide,” he added.

The headman lamented the pathetic condition of roads to the village but added that this had not dented the spirit of orange growers in taking their produce to the Khliehriat and Sutnga markets.

To maintain the fertility of the land, as most of the inhabitants are engaged in farming, the village had banned coal mining 14 years ago.

“Among the coal mining areas, we can safely say that Narwan’s rivers and rivulets are free from any form of pollution as no coal mining can be carried out,” Shadap said.

Other coal mining areas in the district have polluted rivers and streams, which destroy aquatic life.

“The village is also planning to take up fisheries in a big way as our rivers and streams are unpolluted,” Shadap said.