The Telegraph
Tuesday , April 22 , 2014
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A friend for farmers in two states

- NHPC sets up agricultural training centres in Assam, Arunachal

Jorhat, April 21: Tajik Bini, a farmer at Kulap Tukar, a hamlet in the Lower Subansiri district of Arunachal Pradesh bordering Assam, beams with pride as he surveys two bighas of land sprinkled with white star-shaped flowers.

If everything goes well, he knows he is going to get a bumper crop of bhut jolokia — proven to be the world’s hottest chilli — this season.

Bini and five others like him are happy that the National Hydroelectric Power Corporation (NHPC) has selected his farm to set up a sample farming training centre, and planted bhut jolokia saplings over two bighas of his land.

NHPC has set up two training centres in Dhemaji district and one in Lakhimpur in Assam, as well as two in West Siang and one in Lower Subansiri of Arunachal Pradesh.

The training centres distribute saplings to the farmers and impart training on sustainable agriculture.

Bini said this would go a long way to add to his income.

“Every year, I eke out a living by growing and selling paddy over the four hectares of agricultural land that I own. I did not know that bhut jolokia could be grown on this fallow land that I own. The NHPC has planted 4,000 saplings on this land,” he said.

G.K. Singh, NHPC’s human resource chief at Gerukamukh in Dhemaji district, said this was just one of the projects the company had taken up to win the confidence and goodwill of the people.

The Lower Subansiri hydroelectric power project has been stalled for more than two years now.

“It is a sustainable scheme, which will help these farmers get an additional income, along with the sale of paddy,” he said.

Singh said the districts where the centres had been set up were some of the poorest, with Dhemaji considered to be the eighth poorest in the country.

He added that they had bought the saplings from a farmer in Dibrugarh for Rs 5 each.

“From next time, the farmers will be on their own. They have been taught how to make nurseries on their own and sell the saplings to other farmers. They can sell or dry the produce. We also have a plan to form self-help groups and diversify into making other products. The members will also be given training in whatever they want to produce, like pickles and sauces,” he said.

Singh said the industry would have to be self-sustainable, now that it had got off to a start.

On the training of former members of the Bodo Liberation Tigers, he said the process had begun started and the first batch of 30 will start training in different fields by the first week of May.

“We have finalised 300 such rebels after taking the list from the Dhemaji police station. We will send them for training to different industries like computers, masonry, electricians and data entry, according to their aptitude,” he added.

The NHPC project, 70 per cent of which had been completed and Rs 6,000 crore invested, would have been manufacturing 2,000MW of power, had it been completed in time.