Flights Of Fantasy
[ M Panging Pao ]
There is an organic agriculture-horticulture revolution happening in remote villages of the Siang valley in Arunachal Pradesh.
Organic horticulture, which has been introduced recently, is changing the face of the region and ushering development and prosperity of the villagers. This concept of compact organic farming is being promoted by local social worker Nalong Mize and progressive farmer Tajir Siram.
Sissen is a remote village with about 21 households, cut off on both sides by rivers. Sissen was connected only by one hanging bamboo bridge till last year. The village was in the limelight recently due to a movement launched by the villagers, termed ‘No road, no vote’, during the 2014 elections. Last year, the village was connected by a PMGSY road. However, this road is very long, and many villagers still prefer the hanging bridge to connect with the remaining world.
The main reason which impeded the farmers of the area was the disturbance and devastation caused by mithuns, and lack of exposure. Mithuns are revered and used during special occasions like festivals, marriages, etc. Mithuns are left free and roam around the area, leading to destruction of plantations and farms. To resolve this issue, with guidance from Mize, Siram formed the Sissen Welfare Society to convince the farmers of Sissen to fence their farms with barbed wire. They provided the villagers rolls of barbed wire. Convinced of the idea, the local villagers also contributed towards the effort, and the horticulture department also provided assistance.
With the active involvement of the villagers, the entire farming areas were fenced with barbed wire, which provided protection from the mithuns and other animals. Mize and Siram also convinced the farmers not to use pesticides and weedicides and take up organic farming techniques instead. The farmers started growing oranges, cardamom, ginger, red chillies, turmeric, medicinal and aromatic plants, and many other agriculture-horticulture products in these compact farms. About 300 hectares of farm areas are being used for organic horticulture in Sissen village alone. Thus started the organic compact farming story of Sissen village in 2007.
The successful organic compact farming model of Sissen village led to many other villages of the area adopting it. Soon, organic compact farming was adopted by the farmers of Komsing (Karo), Rasing, Rottung, Babuk and Pangi villages.
The organic compact farming model has brought prosperity to Sissen and other villages of the area. The natives of these villages have turned into organic spice growers to sustain themselves, without depending on contract works or government jobs. The farmers have tripled their earnings from farming to about a lakh of rupees per annum. This has afforded better lifestyle to them, and has helped them send their children to private schools in Pasighat. Now local villagers are planning to expand the model to grow bigger farms and grow more varieties of crops and fruits.
Arunachal needs more such inspiring stories.
(The contributor is retired Group Captain, Indian Air Force)