Nagaon, May 15: Organic maize might soon be available at a roadside stall anywhere in central Assam and Barak valley, as Dima Hasao district eyes maize cultivation on its 800-hectare horticulture area.
The targeted area covers both jhum and routine crop areas. Farmers would be encouraged to go for organic fertilisers and pesticides.
According to a local agriculture department source, after a series of training, farmers under five development block areas were given high-quality maize seeds and other materials last month.
NC Hills Autonomous Council chief executive member Debojeet Thaosen said all possible steps were taken by the council to enable the hill district produce maize abundantly in the market to fulfil the demand.
“We are looking after the farmers carefully in order to give them maximum support. Seeds are provided and they are trained on quality management,” Thaosen said.
“Our target is mainly the Umrangsu and Langting areas, which are popular as the main maize pockets of Dima Hasao. In these areas, farmers used to go for local varieties and that resulted in low productivity. This time we are using high-yielding varieties and farmers have been trained to procure more return,” said district agriculture officer Banibrata Mukherjee.
Mukherjee said two maize varieties — HQPM-I and HQPM-5 — have been distributed among the farmers for their high lysine and tryptophan content. “We provide 23kg maize seeds against one hectare area. The 200-hectare Umrangsu area is being targeted to be covered under our high-yielding maize cultivation programme. The duration of these varieties are 90 to 120 days and so we expect that the final product will reach the market by the end of June.”
Normally, 35 to 50 quintals per hectare is the average maize productivity in India and it is 23 to 27 quintals per hectare in Dima Hasao district’s horticulture area. According to records, maize productivity in case of jhum areas of the hill district is between 8 and 12 quintals per hectare.
Dima Hasao’s maize is popular among people of Barak valley and central Assam for its taste. Normally, rail as well as road link between Silchar and Lumding is behind the flow of maize from Langting and other parts in the district to various parts of the state.
“There is a problem for the cultivators. The item has a huge demand in neighbouring districts and is sold at comparatively higher rates. But the farmers get less money because of middlemen. If a federation is floated to back the maize farmers, it could rescue the latter from the hands of middlemen,” said Rolendra Thaosen of Mahur.
Dima Hasao district has a 36,758-hectare crop area and as many as 23,700 families are dependent on agriculture. Maize is cultivated in 2,156-hectare horticulture area in the district. Orange, pineapple, rice, banana, maize are the major produce of the hill district.