A new scheme called ‘Cultivation of Horticulture Crops as an Alternative to Poppy Cultivation in Hill Areas’ under ‘War on Drug 2.0’ was launched by the state government in the interests of all the farming community in general and the illegal poppy farmers in particular at the office complex of department of horticulture and soil conservation located at Sanjenthong on Friday.
The scheme was launched by the Chief Mminister N Biren Singh along with the brand ‘Manifresh’, under the state department of Horticulture and soil Conservation.
At the event, CM Biren said the government is committed to its ‘War on Drugs’ campaign and there would be no question of moving back in its efforts to root out drug menace from the state.
“The government has no enmity with anyone or any community,” he said and he added that the campaign was started with the aim to conserve forest areas, to uproot poppy cultivation, drugs trafficking and its consumption ensuring a better future for the younger generations.
Biren said that 355 farmers who earlier depended on poppy cultivation for their livelihood in Kangpokpi, Kamjong and Ukhrul districts have benefited with alternative arrangements under the War on Drugs campaign.
He stressed the need of the officials concerned to visit various villages and meet the farmers, making them aware of the ill effects of poppy cultivation and about the initiatives of the government towards providing alternative arrangements for earning their livelihood.
He urged the officials concerned to “Provide saplings and seeds for suitable alternative cropping at different places timely.”
The chief minister assured the farmers not to worry about a marketing platform for their produce as the government has provision for buyback of their produce and added that cold storage facilities have also been set up at many places.
Concerning the TRIFED initiative which is committed to transform the lives of tribals in India, he informed that more than 400 Self Help Groups had been formed in the state, employing around 50,000 tribal women mainly on fruit processing. Outlets for selling the products had been opened at many places outside the state, he added.
CM Biren recalled the early initiatives taken by Peh (Paoyi) village under Ukhrul district by uprooting the poppy plantation in their areas for which the government had rewarded the villagers with Rs 10 Lakh. He added that around 130 villagers of Peh (Paoyi) had benefited under phase-III of ‘Mission Organic Value Chain Development for North Eastern Region’ (MOVCDNER).
“Asking the state government for an alternative to poppy cultivation is something meaningless because the state government is taking steps against drugs for welfare of people and also poppy cultivation is illegal,” said Biren. However, he expressed satisfaction on the people’s support to the initiatives taken up by the government and assured that the government would provide all requirements for alternative cropping.
Horticulture and Soil Conservation Minister Letpao Haokip said that the state government under the supervision of Chief Minister N Biren Singh has started providing saplings of high value and nutritional crop varieties, which is of high demand from outside the state too, as an alternative to poppy plantation. Plantation of such high value crops would be economically more helpful to the farmers, he added.
Continuing that the government would provide saplings and buyback certificates to the farmers, he stated that they need not worry about selling their products. With the success of the initiatives of the government, we would be able to see a significant change in the economy of the state with self-sufficiency, he added.
The minister appealed to the public to avail the opportunities provided under various welfare programmes of the government.
Later, the chief minister flagged off the vehicles carrying planting materials which were to be provided to farmers of five districts, including Chandel, Kamjong, Kangpokpi Tengnoupal and Ukhrul. Planting materials of ginger, turmeric, large cardamom, low chilling apple, pineapple, Kachai lemon and Tamenglong orange will be distributed to the farmers of the five districts as the first phase. While, for winter vegetable seeds will be distributed by October 2022 as the second phase.
Additional chief secretary (Horticulture and Soil Conservation) P Vaiphei; director of Horticulture and Soil Conservation, Honey Chara; project director, Manipur Organic Mission Agency (MOMA) K Devadutta Sharma and officials attended the launching programme.
It may be mentioned that to combat drug menace, the state government had taken a multipronged approach through inter departmental efforts to provide alternative livelihood to poppy cultivators with a sustainable integrated farming system.
An amount of Rs 400 Lakh is earmarked for the year 2022-23 for implementing the alternative livelihood to poppy cultivators. An annual action plan with different components is also prepared for implementation with a target of 500 farmers covering about 500 acres in the districts of Chandel, Kamjong, Kangpokpi, Ukhrul and Tengnoupal districts.
‘Manifresh’ which is a combination of words derived from the Word Manipur and Fresh Horticulture Products of the state. The products include both fresh and processed horticultural products. The logo and brand have been launched to bring the entrepreneurs under a common platform and banner through brand building initiative.