Villagers on elephant corridor replacing paddy with aromatic plants

KALAKTANG, Sep 15: “Cultivation of aromatic crops can be the best alternative to paddy in elephant-affected Painaktang village in the Kalaktang-Balemu tehsil of West Kameng district,” Tezpur University’s molecular biology and biotechnology assistant professor Dr Nima D Namsa said.
Located near the Indo-Bhutan border, Painaktang village, comprising nearly 30 households, is an elephant corridor linking Shikaridanga in Udalguri district of Assam.
The farmers of the village had been practicing irrigated paddy cultivation for many years. However, during the last 10 years, most of the farmers have discontinued paddy cultivation due to repeated destruction of standing crops by wild elephants, said Chochong Tsering, gaon burah of the village.
The plantation of improved varieties of lemongrass and citronella developed by the CIMAP was carried out in a seven-acre area of the village from 12-15 September under the guidance of scientific staffers of the CSIR-CIMAP and Tezpur University.
The new clusters of lemongrass and citronella were approved in a recent meeting between Dr Namsa and CSIR-CIMAP, Lucknow’s Director Prof Anil Kumar Tripathi, principal investigator Dr Alok Kalra, and NE region nodal officer Dr RK Srivastava.
“There are hectares of fertile barren land in and around the village, and the prevailing agro-climatic condition is suitable for expansion of growing high-value non-grazing aromatic crops, including vetiver and patchouli, in the future,” said Dr Namsa after launching the plantation.
He also informed that an MoU with the CSIR-CIMAP is likely to be signed during the second week of October.
“The project is expected to help the farmers of Arunachal Pradesh in boosting their income through cultivation of high-value aromatic crops like scented geranium, rose, lavender, and salvia,” he said.
Another gaon burah, Karma Namjee, said the farmers of the village are ready to cooperate with the CSIR-Aroma Mission staff to bring more areas under cultivation. He thanked the CSIR-CIMAP and Tezpur University for the successful implementation of newly-developed farmers’ clusters for lemongrass and citronella cultivation in Painaktang.
The crops will be ready for extraction of oils after six months from the date of plantation.