From Our Correspondent | TNT News | June 22, 2018
Tura: The state of Meghalaya has always been blessed with plenty- Plenty of rain, wind, excellent quality soil and hard working people. However the one thing that the state has lacked since time immemorial is infrastructure and support, especially the agrarian people of the state.
A quick look through the position of the state shows why the state is yet to develop in what has become second nature to people of the region – agriculture. The state lacks an MSP for agricultural goods, lack of cold storage as well as a vision for the future. Most farmers within the state follow single cropping while the rest of the country does at least two per year.
The lack of storage space for farmers to store their goods has been a huge disappointment for those that have practiced farming. The lack of cold storage has meant that agriculturists who bring their produce from far flung areas have to literally sell their goods at throwaway prices if they aren’t able to sell their goods during market time.
“Middlemen have been taking advantage of them this way. They ensure that they do not buy from these farmers till late in the evening. The poor farmer then has to either carry his goods back home or sell at the prices that these middlemen give them. If only they had the support of cold storage,” said CEPARD member, SR Sangma.
Marketing of farm produce is a huge hurdle faced by residents mainly due to the lack of big markets where farmers can hawk their produce.
“Look at the situation with bananas, ginger, pineapple, cashew, jackfruit among others. There are no markets where the farmers can sell their goods in Meghalaya. The only ones are those in Assam. The state is not only losing revenue but so is the farmer. There have been demands for the set up of markets in various locations but nothing has materialized till date,” said MG Momin, another resident.
With Meghalaya producing mainly organic farm produce, the potential for marketing of such goods is exponential and according to most, needs to be fully explored.
“The state can be another hub of organic products and I think we are missing a point by not doing enough to market our goods as such. A concerted effort has to be made to explore this as most of what we produce is organic in nature,” felt AM Marak of Tura.
The lack of training for farmers is another sad point that needs to be looked at.
“Farmer training is essential if we want them to be self dependent. It is through training that they will understand double cropping or even multiple cropping, efforts have to be made to educate them on the subject. Further support from the government in terms of monitoring, MSP (Minimum Support Price), finance etc; should be provided to them in the first stages,” said an officer from the agriculture department on the condition of anonymity.
“Farmers and farming is the base for any society. They are the feeders and their contribution is immense. Unfortunately the government has never really done much to help in their plight and that is something that needs to change,” felt CEPARD president Sangma.