TODAY -

Ukhrul Plum growers bemoan absence of storage facility
Source: The Sangai Express / Mungchan Zimik

Ukhrul, May 31 2014 : Owing to absence of cold storage or other preservation facility, various seasonal or horticultural fruits found in abundance in Ukhrul district have perished or got rotten as the seasons passed.

Cultivation of Plum, which is thriving in the district is no exception.

During summer, Plum fruits are found in plenty at Ukhrul and neighbouring villages like Shirui, Langdang, Ngainga, Choithar, Khangkhui Halang etc.

Numerous plum fruits perished as there is no facility for preserving the same for lean period.

The sub temperate tropical climate of Ukhrul is suitable for cultivation of various horticultural crops like plum, banana, lemon, orange, beach, bears, yam, tapioca etc.

Promotion of these crops in the region could otherwise be a source of livelihood for many besides converting the vast waste land for productive use.

This could also be a viable alternative for jhum cultivation, the practice of which has been attributed to climate change, according to District Horticulture Officer, Ngaranpam.

As per official record, 7000 households in Ukhrul town alone are engaged in backyard Plum cultivation.

In an average, 30-50 kgs of fruits are harvested per plant annually.

The annual production of plum from Ukhrul headquarters alone can be calculated with simple arithmetic.

Talking to this correspondent, many plum growers aired their grievances that most of their produces go wasted due to the absence of cold storage facility or fruit processing unit which could otherwise acted as a mine for them during lean season.

Pamthingla, an Ukhrul resident, said that the plum season is too short and as such she could hardly make a turnover of Rs 10,000 in a season.

She added that she could fetch more if the fruits are stored and sell in off seasons.

She said although the fruit from the district is in high demand in other parts of the State including the State capital Imphal, only a few percents of the fruits could hit the markets outside the district.

Most of the fruits got rotten before they are transported to respective destination.

Ngaranpam, the District Horticulture Officer felt that the huge waste land of the district could be converted into a productive one by promoting horticultural crops and turning the land into orchard.

He said that several types of horticultural crops could flourish here as the climate is suitable for such crops.

A little step in the right direction from the authority concerned would be an added advantage to boost the economy of the district besides making the district green.

Setting up of cold storage, processing unit and providing the necessary inputs to the growers would be seen as a step in the right direction to achieve the dual purpose of boosting the economy and turning the district green, he said.

In 1978, the Horticulture department started Sanda Rosa Plum, Green Gauge, apple etc plantation on trial basis at the Horticulture Research Centre, Ukhrul covering an area of about 17.10 acre of land.

Now the Research Centre has been converted into a Mini Secretariat complex, he further pointed out.

Awon, a plum grower observed that the size of the plum has decreased although negligibly this year.

She said this could perhaps be due to degradation of the soil fertility or lack of pollination.

Just 20- 30% of the total plum harvest were sold out in the market while the rest perished.

Apart from consuming the fruits in fresh form, some small time entrepreneurs made fermented plum juice and plum jams for domestic consumption.

Plum sellers from Shirui have different story.

As the plum season coincided with the flowering of the Shirui Lily, the plum sellers usually have good times selling the plum to the tourists.

The plum season has its peak from May and lasted till mid June.

The fruit is sold at Rs 10-15 per kilogram.

Experts are also understood to have recommended the quality of plum found here of having high delicacy.


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