The Telegraph
Sunday , February 23 , 2014
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Export dreams for pumpkins

Nagaon, Feb. 22: The sweet organic pumpkins of Dima Hasao will soon reach Guwahati markets and perhaps journey further with the district administration planning to streamline the marketing network in farmers’ interest.

The Dima Hasao agriculture department has begun a detailed survey in the pumpkin belts, primarily at Langting under Maibong subdivision, to find out methods of outsourcing, average annual production and productivity, current market network and details of pumpkin farmers.

According to a report, eight Langting areas — Longphang, Mailubra, Hapla, Thaijudisa, Hajao, Langren, Warendisa and Pampughat — produce more than 1,600 tonnes of organic pumpkin annually, a lion’s share of which goes to Silchar and Nagaon through the rail route.

As many as 200 families are engaged in pumpkin cultivation, using more than 120 hectares for jhum cultivation in the eastern part of the hill district.

“At present, the market is not organised at all. Middlemen control the market and farmers are always deprived of their legitimate profit. We plan to streamline the system so that the farmers can be linked with the bigger market. Initially, we are eyeing the state capital. Then we might even think of export,” said district agriculture officer Banibrata Mukharjee.

He said the department would create a federation for pumpkin farmers. They could also be assisted under departmental programmes and training could be arranged for skill development.

Dima Hasao autonomous council chief executive member Debojeet Thaosen said they were planning measure for uplift of pumpkin farmers, of Langting in particular and Dima Hasao in general.

“If Dhemaji can export rice to Norway and Sonitpur can send chillies to Bangladesh, why can’t we export Dima Hasao pumpkins? We have the vision to make the district known to the world,” Thaosen said.

Other than rice, pulse and oil seeds, the hill district is known for oranges, pineapples, passionfruit, ginger and chillies.

“People feel Dima Hasao denotes trouble and unrest. However, 90 per cent of the people here are engaged in cultivation and the quality of the farm products is far better compared to other parts of the state,” said Rolendra Hojai, a farmer from Umrangsu.

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