Through the column of your esteemed daily, I would like to draw the attention of concerned authority to focus more on alternative livelihood sources for opium cultivators of Longding district, especially in 60th Pongchau-Wakka constituency. The people of this region have been embarking on opium cultivation for self sustenance. There is no ray of hope for alternative sources of income other than the opium source. The sole reason behind the opium cultivation is that the people of this region do not get back enough return from agricultural activities.
Moreover, climatic condition for poppy crop is little more favourable compared to other agricultural crops.
Our people took to opium as a major crop for self sustenance and to educate children. Similarly, in case of some villages, they do not have sufficient land for cultivation of crop which needs large spacing in comparison with poppy plant.
For instance, Jagan village have got around 13 or 14 hectares of cultivable land for whole village. 99% of cultivable land falls under Myanmar as the villagers migrated from Khasa village and shifted to the present location between India and Myanmar. This subsequently resulted in acute shortage of agricultural food items and our people faced food crisis every year since pre-independence.
Somehow our people managed livelihood by means of poppy cultivation which gives them monetary benefits.
Therefore, people already know the pros and cons but are unable to stop cultivation without alternative source for their livelihood.
The responsible leaders are keeping quiet; they are only running after the money and not for the welfare of common people.
In my view, the government should not only put emphasis on opium eradication and rehabilitation centre but also put emphasis on creating special alternative sources for opium cultivators. The elimination of opium is not complete solution for the farmers.