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Saturday, June 9, 2018


1917 iTEAMS Agri Response Centre (ARC)
Photo 1: Inside the 1917 iTEAMS ARC
         Meghalaya, a predominantly agrarian State, rich in agro-biodiversity is still yet to unleash its agricultural potential. Many of the States’ commercial and unique produce viz. Lakadong turmeric, organic vegetables, natural honey, coffee, cashewnut, strawberries, etc. are still absent in diverse intra and inter markets of the States. Majority of the farmers are confined to selling their produce in daily/weekly village markets or in main markets in the Districts. Walking through the streets of the biggest market in the state of Meghalaya, Iewduh Shillong, the streets are crammed with vegetables and fruits vendors and producers. This leads to high competition among them and paves way for the wholesalers and traders to suppress the price of the produce, thus depriving the producers of their rightful gain. A large majority of the farmers are still in the dark about different local based organizations or online portals for selling their produce and only a handful of the farmers in the State have access to such marketing platforms. Moreover, the lack of timely access to proper information and poor infrastructure like roads, cold storage facilities, etc. impede farmers from their well-deserved earnings.
The Department of Agriculture, Government of Meghalaya, with the motto of “Connecting farmers to markets’, launched the project 1917iTEAMS (Integrated Technology Enabled Agri Management System) in December 2017. The project which is based on Information Communication Technology (ICT) aims to cater to the needs of the farmers with just a phone call away as mobile telephony is the technology of choice for people from all walks of life today. Further, Meghalaya which ranked among the top 10 States of India with a potential growth rate in rural tele-density (Open Government Data Platform India, 2014), is in a much better position to capitalize on and take benefits from the various digital initiatives for digital empowerment of the masses and provision of digital delivery of various services to the citizens.
1917iTEAMS, a first of its kind project in the hilly terrain, is designed to connect farmers to the Agri- Response Centre(ARC) through a toll-free number 1917 for services related to agro-advisory services, market intelligence and transporting of agricultural produce by Agri-Response Vehicles (ARVs). The project is equipped with Incoming Communication Officers (ICOs) who are Agricultural & Veterinary Masters graduates as Level 1 Experts themselves and Dispatch Officers (DOs) in charge of ARVs. Farmers are connected to the ICOs through the Toll-Free number 1917, where the latter assists them in any queries related to disease and pest management, package of practices on apiculture, fisheries, Sericulture, scheme related information, health management of livestock, providing buyer information and any other allied sectors information. There are also Level 2 escalations to Subject Matter Experts(SMS) who are employees of the Agriculture and Allied State and Central Government departments.
A 1917 iTEAMS Agri Response Vehicle (ARV)
Photo 2: 1917 iTEAMS ARV loading farmer's produce for transportation
Although still in its infancy, with just three months of implementation, the 1917iTEAMS project has been able to carry through its intentions and objectives. The project has been able to provide assistance to more than two thousand queries of the farmers especially on crop disease and pest management. In-spite of the fact that the project has not been advertised at large, the ARVs have been the service of choice of about Fifteen Percent newly registered farmers who were in need of transporting agricultural products to and from their villages to markets.
One of the main objectives of 1917iTEAMS is to connect farmers to markets eliminating wasteful intermediation and multiple handling by middlemen, thereby significantly reducing transaction costs. The project has been able to provide a market information platform for a significant percentage of its registered farmers who inquired about selling off their produce. A noteworthy story so far, a registered farmer of 1917iTEAMS from a remote village in Jaintia hills complained to an ICO of 1917iTEAMS about the poor marketing of his produce apropos to which a Shillong based organization was introduced to him for buying his produce. Through this introduction, a successful business transaction was built between the farmer and the organization, and additionally with the farmers of the entire and nearby villages.
Many other successful marketing networks has also been created between the poultry registered farmers of 1917iTEAMS with other Shillong based organizations and local chicken vendors. What is more, in many cases, a marketing network was created by 1917iTEAMS among the registered farmers themselves for buying and selling their required commodities. One such instance where this scenario was applied was for buying and selling of piglets among the registered farmers and this initiative was highly appreciated.
Agriculture is an important sector of Meghalaya’s economy and information is vital for development and well-being of the rural masses. ICT in agriculture can act as a driving force in this development process. 1917iTEAMS has applied ICT to the advantage of Meghalaya’s small, marginal and resource-poor farmers by disseminating timely agricultural information pertaining to soil enrichment, seed selection, disease and pest management, organic cultivation, prevailing markets, demand-supply status in respect of different products and their current market prices. The information helps farmers in taking timely decisions on crop product diversification strategies and positioning of the same in right market to get optimum revenue. With more milestones to accomplish, 1917iTEAMS aims to empower the farmers of the state of Meghalaya to reach their highest potential. 
 (Article written by 1917-iTEAMS Program Management Unit)

Saturday, April 28, 2018

Governor of Meghalaya Launched 5 Year Mission Lakadong

Photo: Mission Lakadong being unveiled by the Governor of Meghalaya
The Governor of Meghalaya, Shri Ganga Prasad today launched a five year Mission Lakadong 2018-2023, a convergent Mission of the Directorate of Horticulture, Department of Agriculture with the Governor’s Secretariat, Community &  Rural Development  Department,  Forest   Department, North Eastern Hill University and Meghalaya Institute of Entrepreneurship at a function held at State Convention Centre, Shillong. The programme was organized by the Directorate of Horticulture.
The inaugural function was also attended by Shri Nujorki Sungoh, MLA, Mowkaiaw Constituency, Shri K.N. Kumar, Additional Chief Secretary to the Governor of Meghalaya, Shri P. Sampath Kumar, Commissioner and Secretary, Agriculture Department, Smti M. N. Nampui, Secretary, Agriculture Department, Smti B.N. War, Director of Horticulture, Dr. S. Rama Rao, Professor and Head, Biotechnology, NEHU, Shri A. Madhukar, Chairman, Afro-Asian Development Consortium, entrepreneurs and turmeric farmers of Jaintia Hills.

Speaking on the occasion as Chief Guest, the Governor said Meghalaya climatic condition is conducive for growing a variety of spices, the prominent ones are turmeric, ginger, chilli, black pepper and bay-leaf. Jaintia Hills District is home to one of the finest turmeric varieties in the world and the most famous one being the Lakadong turmeric with a curcumin content of more than 7% is highly sought after by the market, added the Governor. He further added that Lakadong turmeric is a rare type of turmeric and has the potential to change the lives of countless farmers if its uniqueness is properly exploited and there is an established demand for the variety and buyers who are willing to pay a premium for its quality.

“I am aware that this chemical free turmeric is much sought after for use in the cosmetic, pharmaceutical and food industry. However, despite such good demand, farmers have not, till date, been able to realise the full economic potential of this crop because most of them are small and marginal, and due to non availability of planting material and low volumes. The negative influence of the middle men is another major factor. I understand that there are at least 1000 farmers engaged in the cultivation of Lakadong Turmeric in Laskein and Thadlaskein Blocks, and the area is about 2500 hectares. I have also ascertained that the total production is just about 10,000 M.T. per year. This kind of volume is not sufficient to create a global foot print for our Lakadong. So, there is a necessity to undertake a mission mode intervention to increase the production of Lakadong Tumeric to at least 50,000 M.T. per year and more than double the area” he added.
The Mission Lakadong was launched to lend exclusive focus on one of Meghalaya’s most well known spices, the Lakadong turmeric, also known as the golden spice and to put in place targeted interventions aimed at the improvement of livelihoods of turmeric farmers by leveraging upon its default organic status  and its high curumin content, which at more than 7% is the highest in the world, to capture and meet the demand for this valuable spice from markets and industries especially the pharmaceutical industry.

Photo 2: A lady Entrepreneur Smt.Isabella Pakma making slices

The Mission will adopt an end to end holistic approach to organic Lakadong cultivation and will put in place interventions to increase that area under from its current status of 6367 acres (2577 hectares) to 15,000 acres (6070 hectares) over the next five years while improving the productivity from 6 MT per hectare to 8 MT per hectare, introduction of the latest technologies of plant propagation to increase and improve the availability of planting material, post harvest technology induction including solar dehydrators, product aggregation, the creation of a dedicated Hub and Center for Excellence for Lakadong, mobilization of farmers into Farmer Interest Groups, training, capacity building, creation of an ecosystem for promotion of turmeric based agri-businesses and a dedicated supply chain linked to markets for turmeric.

The main objective of the Mission is to enhance the livelihood and income opportunities of Lakadong turmeric farmers by leveraging on the uniqueness of Lakadong to tap the current and emerging opportunities in the spice sector. This will call for setting a target of 50,000 MTs of Lakadong in a period of five years.

Building up the brand equity of Lakadong as a uniquely Meghalayan premium product, both online and offline, that is synonymous with quality and purity. This will call for investment to register the Geographical Indication for Meghalaya’s Lakadong.

Induction of the latest technology and management practices for enhancing the availability of quality planting material. This will call for establishing Tissue culture Labs in key locations of the state and using the available resources of NEHU, Forest and Agriculture Departments and creation of an ecosystem that catalyses the emergence and growth of local private enterprises in the value chain. This will call for sustained capacity building of the potential entrepreneurs and establishing market linkage by the Meghalaya Institute of Entrepreneurship.

Others who spoke on the occasion were Shri Nujorki Sungoh, MLA, Shri K.N. Kumar, Additional Chief Secretary, Shri P. Sampath Kumar, Commissioner and Secretary, Agriculture Department, Smti M. N. Nampui, Secretary Agriculture Department, Smti B.N. War, Director of Horticulture, Dr. S. Rama Rao, Professor and Head, Biotechnology, NEHU and Shri A. Madhukar, Chairman, Afro-Asian Development Consortium.

Later, Technical Session was held on the topics, namely; Brief about the Mission, Market Access-Future Ready, Inducting Technologies, Rapid Multiplication of Lakadong through Tissue Culture, Bio-Diversity, the Protection of Plant Variety and Farmer’s Right Act 2001, Organic Cultivation of Turmeric and Presentation on 1917iTEAMS.

(Source: Official Press Release by the DIPR, Government of Meghalaya)

Saturday, March 24, 2018

Department of Agriculture awarded Krishi Commendation Award 2015-16

Photo 1:  Minister of Agriculture, Meghalaya receiving the Award

The Ministry of Agriculture, Government of India conferred the Department of Agriculture Meghalaya with the Krishi Commendation Award for the year 2015-16, in recognition of the commendable foodgrains production achieved by the State.   The Award carries a citation, trophy and a cash award of INR 1(One) Crore. The award was received by the Chief Minister of Meghalaya, Shri. Conrad K. Sangma on behalf of the people of the State, from the Prime Minister of India, in presence of Agriculture Minister, Shri. Banteidor Lyngdoh, Shri.B.Mawlong, MCS, Joint Secretary Agriculture and Shri. R.Langstieh, Director of Agriculture(R&T).

The Chief Minister dedicated the award to the people of the State and especially the farmers. “It gives an immense pleasure that I have received the award on behalf of the farmers of the State, who have scripted a success story. It is just the beginning and we are looking forward to support our farmers in the best possible way”, said the CM. The Chief Minister thanked the Prime Minister, Shri. Narendra Modi and the Ministry of Agriculture for recognizing Meghalaya with this award, which was possible because of the hard work of the farmers and the officials of the Department of Agriculture and other stakeholders.

Addressing the gathering at the Krishi Unnati Mela held at IARI, Pusa New Delhi, the Prime Minister of India said that Unnati Mela play a key role in paving the way for New India. He said that today, he has the opportunity to simultaneously speak to two sentinels of New India- farmers and scientists. He said farmers and scientists have to work together to transform agriculture. The Prime Minister specially mentioned the State of Meghalaya, which received an award for its achievements in agriculture, in the period under review. The Prime Minister appreciated the spirit and the hard work of our farmers, for their achievements in agriculture since independence. He said that today, there is record production of foodgrains, pulses, fruits and vegetables, and milk. He said that there are important challenges in agriculture today, which reduce the farmers income, and increase his losses and expenditure. He said the Government is working with a holistic approach to deal with these challenges. He said the aim remains to double farmers incomes, and make the farmers lives easier.

The Prime Minister also said comprehensive steps are being taken for Agriculture Marketing Reforms. It is important to connect Rural Retail Markets with wholesale and global markets. He said that in the recent Union Budget, Grameen Retail Agriculture Markets have been envisaged. 22,000 rural haats will be upgraded with necessary infrastructure, and integrated with APMC and the e-NAM platform.

The Prime Minister also emphasized on the importance of Farmer Producer Organizations. He said Farmer Producer Organizations, would be given relief on income tax, on the lines of cooperative societies. He said a new chapter in Agriculture Marketing Reform is being added in this programme, with the e-marketing portal for organic products. He said that along with the Green Revolution and White Revolution, we must stress on Organic Revolution, Water Revolution, Blue Revolution, and Sweet Revolution. The Prime Minister said that the Government is working to ensure that adequate Agriculture Credit is available.

It may be mentioned that Meghalaya has received the Krishi Award from the Ministry of Agriculture for four consecutive years under the programme “National Food Security Mission”, a centrally sponsored scheme of the Central Government, which aims to increase production and productivity of foodgrains like Rice, Maize and Pulses in the country.

(This article has been reproduced and adapted from the official press release of DIPR, Government of Meghalaya)

Friday, October 20, 2017

Focus Group Workshop on 1917 iTEAMS

                                                                             - By Canning S Shabong

Smt.H.Lyngdoh, Director of Horticulture Meghalaya welcoming the dignitaries


The 1(One) Day Focus Group Workshop on 1917-Integrated Technology Enabled Agri Management System (iTEAMS), is the first workshop held with a section of stakeholders, in order to sensitize, inform and educate about the new program of the Department of Agriculture, which is being prepared for roll out in the State. The workshop invited stakeholders comprising farmer leaders, agro-entrepreneurs, KVK Subject Matter Specialists (SMS), Block Technology Managers (BTM) and Assistant Technology Managers (ATM) of ATMA's and Departmental officers. The Inaugural Function was attended by Commissioner & Secretary Agriculture, Shri. P.S.Kumar, IAS, Joint Secretary Agriculture Department Shri, B.Mawlong, MCS, Director of Horticulture, Smt. H.Lyngdoh, Director of Agriculture (R&T), Smt. B.N War and Officers from Directorate of Veterinary and Animal Husbandry led by Dr. Rijal, Director. The Chief Guest of the workshop is Dr. Mukul M. Sangma, Hon'ble Chief Minister incharge Agriculture & Horticulture etc.

Objectives:  The main objective of the workshop is to understand the views and opinions of the various stakeholders about the 1917 iTEAMS program, inform educate and sensitize the various stakeholders about the goals and objectives of this new initiative which is planned for roll out in a short time by the State Government, using a multi modal and multi sectoral technology platform.


Speaking at the inaugural function during the 1917 iTEAMS Focus Group Workhop, the Chief  Minister of Meghalaya incharge Agriculture & Horticulture, Dr. Mukul M.Sangma reiterated that the 1917- Integrated Technology Enabled Agri Management System (iTEAMS) is a very important initiative of the State Government for the farming community.  In the era of technology driven economy, the CM said that "there is need to ensure that we leverage upon  technology that is available and technology that is evolving, thereby ensuring that farmers have access to the latest scientific information in order to make farming more remunerative. Farming will become remunerative when farmers are able to realise optimal benefit from their land resources.

Further, Agriculture is the "On thing and will remain the On thing so long as this planet exist"  the Chief Minister told the participants of the focus group workshop. When farmers are empowered with knowledge and skills, only then the State will be able to overcome the challenge of food and nutritional security. Farmers are the most important stakeholders of our program and there is a need to involve them and connect them to this program from the very beginning, the CM opined.

iTEAMS is borne out of the fact that there is a huge need for creating a knowledge bank which is accessible to farmers as well as provide comprehensive support system to ensure farmer's produce reaches the nearest markets and ensure last mile connectivity. There is also an urgent need to minimise post harvest losses to optimise farmer's income. This 1917 iTEAMS program is a comprehensive, exhaustive and technology driven initiative, which needs domain specific expertise. The Toll free Number 1917 will ensure on demand evacuation service for farmer's produce from their villages to the nearest markets.  

Through this Program farmers will have comprehensive information about their land, the nutritional status of the soil, the moisture content, the micro climatic condition around their area, the sunshine duration etc. Today with the help of technology platform, we are now in a better position to provide these information to farmers.  

Nations who focused on agriculture are able to come out of poverty level as well as job and unemployment related issues. Farming has to be designed to attract the younger agro entrepreneurs in order to make agriculture more remunerative, attractive and sustainable. We need to create extensive awareness and educate the people about the magnitude of opportunities that agriculture sector can provide, including the quantum of entrepreneurship that can be generated in the agriculture value chain.

We want the World to know that we are creating an enabling environment and we want all friends to partner and participate in this program to show the World that we can grow and prosper, even in the midst of adversity. Agriculture will ultimately determine our future and we need to have the courage to dream big and also empower the farmers to dare to dream big, the CM concluded and set the tone for the workshop to deliberate and brainstorm. 


The Focus Group Discussion was chaired by the Commissioner & Secretary Agriculture. Shri.B.Sohliya, OSD Meghalaya Institute of Enpreneurship gave an overview about the 1917 iTEAMS program through a power point presentation. He explained about the key concept, rationale, the program objectives and the architecture of the program, which is planned for roll out by the department.

A Q&A session followed thereafter where the stakeholders representing each group were given opportunity to share their opinion and raise questions about this program. Some of the stakeholders also give suggestions on integrating Village Level Entrepreneurs (VLE) from Common Service Centres (CSC) into the program. The VLE present also expressed their willingness to join as franchisees. The consensus that emerged from this workshop is that the program, will indeed be very useful for the farmers of the State and can potentially be a game changer in the agriculture development of the State.

Saturday, September 16, 2017

Celebration of World Honey Bee Day- 19th August 2017

                                                                                         -By Canning S Shabong
Shri.R.V.Lyngdoh, Hon. Minister Speaking at the Inaugural Function


The Directorate of Horticulture, Meghalaya and Meghalaya Small Farmer’s Agri Business Consortium,(MgSFAC) which is the nodal agency for implementing the centrally sponsored scheme 'Mission for Integrated Development of Horticulture' (MIDH) in the State observed the World Honey Bee Day on 19th August 2017 at the Integrated Agriculture Training Centre,(IATC) 7th Mile, Upper Shillong. The theme of the observation was “Bee Keeping for Livelihood and Sustainable Development

The day long function, which was participated by 500 farmers from across the State, include the Inaugural session, Exhibition cum Sales of Honey products and bye products, Seminar for farmers and entertainment by the local band “Colors”.  The event was also participated by Department of Commerce and Industries, Government of Meghalaya, Meghalaya Institute of Entrepreneurship (MIE), Khadi and Village Industries Board (KVIB), Rural Resource Training Centre (RRTC) etc.  
The event was inaugurated by Shri. R.V. Lyngdoh, Hon’ble Minister of Arts & Culture, Soil & Water Conservation & Urban Affairs, Government of Meghalaya. The Minister also inaugurated the Exhibition cum Sales of honey and honey products, which were put on display by State Government undertaking like Khadi and Village Industries Board (KVIB), NGO’s like Rural Resource Training Centre(RRTC), entrepreneurs, farmers and local startups. The prominent exhibitors are Ms. Eva Lyngdoh, Bee keeper and Mr. Vijay Byrsat from the Centre of Learning Knowledge & Services (COLK), Shillong which displayed its "BIE" brand of honey products.


The Inaugural Function was attended by Smt. M.N.Nampui, IAS, Secretary to the Government of Meghalaya, Agriculture Department, Shri. R.S.Gill, IFS, Addl. PCCF, Forest Department and Smt. D.Syiemiong, Director of Horticulture.

Speaking during the function, the Secretary Agriculture informed the gathering that the Government of India through the Ministry of Agriculture has seen it fit to honor these small insects that hover around us, bringing life and pollination. She also underlined the importance and role played by the honeybees for livelihood and agriculture development in the State.

Shri. R.S.Gill, IFS in his brief speech said that "honoring the honey bee is like honoring our own life, our capacity to live healthily, think healthily and to contribute to our society". Therefore, the honeybee is a part of our personality, our society and our country.

During the Inaugural Function, the Chief Guest, Shri. R.V.Lyngdoh said that this humble insect is so important and crucial to our survival that its extinction will also ensure extinction of mankind. He also expressed his happiness to see that many other departments are also taking part in this observation of World Honey Bee Day. He also informed the farmers that in United States there was a period where the crop production had fallen and Research Scientist attributed that this to the decrease in bee population. He therefore said that it is appropriate that we should observe this day to remind us of the important role played by bees in pollination and agriculture production.

Others who spoke during the function were Smt. D.Syiemiong, Director of Horticulture,  Shri. G. Shylla, District Horticulture Officer, Ri-Bhoi and Shri. Crosspillar Marak, District Horticulture Officer, West Garo Hills.

Honey Bee products on display by Department of Agriculture

1.      Department of Commerce and Industries, Meghalaya
2.      Khadi and Village Industries Board (KVIB), Shillong
3.    District Horticulture Offices, East Garo Hills, East Khasi Hills, West Jaintia Hills, Ri-Bhoi, South West Khasi Hills, West Khasi Hills.
4.      M/s COLKs Enterprise
5.      Ms. Eva B. Lyngdoh
6.      M/s H.L/ Candles (Bee Wax Candles)

The observation of World Honey Bee Day on 19th August was the first of its kind event held in the State, which witnessed participation by 500 farmers, bee keepers, honeybee product entrepreneurs, Scientist, Practitioners, NGO’s and department officials from all over the State. The event also attracted visitors, buyers to the exhibition and most of the honey on display was sold out on the day. Buyers were also given a free specially ordered "honey bee bag" with every purchase of honey. The Department of Agriculture, Meghalaya expresses its heartfelt thanks to the Ministry of Agriculture for deciding to observe this event, to create awareness about the role played by honey bees in pollination and as a means of livelihood for farmers.

(The Writer currently works as Assistant Director of Agriculture (info & IT), Department of Agriculture Meghalaya and can be reached at

Sunday, February 26, 2017

Angela Shangoi- A Successful Model Woman Farmer

Fig.1: Smt.Angela Shangoi receiving the Award at New Delhi
        Smt. Angela Shangoi is one of the leading female progressive farmer from Umyiap valley, Mawkynbat village of West Khasi Hills district, who has made a mark in farming. Owning farmland of 4 hectares, she uses to grow local paddy variety which yield only 1.5- 1.8 MT per hectare. After the introduction of the centrally sponsored scheme, National Food Security Mission(NFSM) scheme, she started growing HYV paddy, variety MEG II which was procured from the District Agriculture Office. From the crop cutting experiment, her paddy field yielded about 3.8 MT of paddy per hectare. She is also a paddy registered seed grower with the district and shares the variety along with other fellow farmers of the village.
            Being a progressive farmer, she also grows Maize, field pea on her land which fetches very high returns even in the local market. Besides she also grows carrot, beetroot,bean and other vegetables. She is also able to market her marketable surplus in the market fetching regular returns.
            She is incidentally, one of the pioneering farmer who have taken the lead to grow large scale Pea Cultivation in her paddy field usually left fallow during the winter months. With assured irrigation from the nearby hill,  in a 1(one) hectare land, she planted around 75 kg of pea seed during the 2nd week of December and harvested during the first week of April fetching a total yield of 4 Metric Tonnes. This timing has been well calibrated to take advantage of the lean period of supplies from the plains of Assam, thereby able to fetch an average wholesale price of Rs. 40-50 per Kg in the wholesale market in Shillong. This fetches her gross profit of around Rs. 90,000-1.00 lakh per hectare.
            Her next winter vegetable that earned her good returns is Carrot which she planted during the month of January and harvest by 3rd week of April. She is able to get Rs. 30-50 rupees per Kg in wholesale market. From Carrot she is able to earn around 50,000/- of gross return.
Besides Pea and Carrot which she grows in large scale, she also grows Color Capsicum in a 250 Sq.Metres Greenhouse provided by the District Horticulture Office. Other vegetables that she grows in smaller scale are Coriander, Beetroot, Cucumber, Brinjal and Tomato.
            During the year 2012-13, she formed a Self Help Group (SHG) called “Iatreilang SHG” with 10 members. She is the President of the SHG and under her leadership; all the members are emulating her footsteps and collectively work for the benefit of the group. On March 2015, the Office of the District Horticulture Officer also provided her group with a Bolero Pickup Jeep for transportation and evacuation of her produces to the wholesale market in Shillong. With this transport vehicle, she is able to swiftly market her produce to the capital city Shillong on market days. She also subscribed to the wholesale market prices SMS provided by the department of agriculture, which she receives on her mobile phone and rely on this free information service before taking her vegetable to market. 
Fig. 2: Smt Angela Shangoi at her village at Mawkynbat
          Smt. Angela Shangoi inspite of all odds and supporting a family of 8 school and college going children, through sheer hard work, strong determination and leadership qualities has set a fine example for the district of West Khasi Hills and has endeared herself even to the higher ups in the Department who knows her by name and acknowledge her hard work by recognising her in State and district level crop competition.
Usually, its very difficult to grow any crop during the winter months due to stray cattle and horses, which are let loose to feed and graze on the field after harvesting of paddy. Angela and her group members had to build a fence made from locally available materials, to protect their winter crop from grazing by cows and horses. Though this effort, she could protect her pea crop from the animals and hence fetch a good price as she got to harvest and market the crop during off-season in the plains of Assam.
On March 2016, she was conferred the Agriculture Minister’s Krishi Karman Award as outstanding farmer and received a cash prize of Rs. 2.0 lakhs along with a citation from the Prime Minister of India. On reaching back home from New Delhi, instead of spending the cash award money on buying consumer goods, she invested the award money on buying a brand new Power Tiller to further her farming enterprise. This shows the outstanding quality of the lady to improve her farming through technology induction. 
The exemplary example of this woman farmer has made her village of Mawkynbat and Umiap take up to Pea cultivation in a big scale and today the entire fertile Umyiap valley is dotted with pea and carrot cultivation, after seeing the successes of this lady farmer. 

(The Writer works as Assistant Director of Agriculture, Department of Agriculture Meghalaya and can be reached at

Thursday, April 14, 2016

UMLAKRO FARM – Model for Sustainable Horticulture Tourism Development


A View of Umlakro Farm at Jirang, Ri-bhoi District

During the British rule when Meghalaya was part of undivided Assam, Khasi Mandarin Oranges were reported to be growing in abundance in the hill tract under Jirang C&RD Block of Ri-Bhoi district. However, lack of adoption of scientific procedure for cultivation and management practices caused poor productivity and these trees began to decrease vigorously thus leading to citrus decline and dieback. The District Horticulture Office begun to explore ways and means how to regain back the past glories and today Umlakro Farm has emerged as a model of sustainable horticulture development combining modern hitech horticulture technology with horti-tourism.

The genesis of this story took roots when the Department of Agriculture was gifted 7 hectares of land from the Syiem of Jirang and his Durbar in the year 2004, with the expectation that the land could be used for the overall development and upliftment of agriculture in the region under Jirang C&RD Block.

During 2009, this land was transferred to the Directorate of Horticulture to develop but it was only in 2012 that the office of the District Horticulture officer, Ri-Bhoi could start work on the project for setting up a horticulture farm. Thus Umlakro farm was created to not only re-nurture Khasi Mandarins, but also to experiment with other citrus varieties like Nagpur Orange, Assam Lemon, Sweet Orange. The farm also aims to provide farmers of the district with high quality seeded and budded plants. Furthermore, the farm will also facilitate students of Horticulture to conduct in-depth study on the functional, productivity, efficiency and a holistic understanding of oranges, mandarins and lemon. Students will also be able to learn from the farm through hands on approach which will enhance their personal development.

In the past, the life of a farmer is dictated by the weather gods -when the rain god, the sun god, the god of the earth are favourable on them, the farmer can begin to rejoice and thank the heavens for their season’s harvest. But apparently all the rituals practiced by our farmers and their sacrifices have become futile with the changing time and technology has taken over many aspects of farming. With the aim of bringing development closer to the people in the villages, creating basic infrastructure to provide gainful employment opportunities for the people and empower them so that they may have the liberty to work as employers rather than employees, the Directorate of Horticulture released fund of Rs. 6.25 lakhs for developing basic infrastructure construction of shade  house, overhead water tank and land development to develop Umlakro as a model horticulture farm.

A Birds Eye View of the Farm 
Furthermore, after conducting adequate studies on the land, soil and climate of the area, the horticulture development officer in-charge of the farm opted to raise mother plants in order to  produce quality planting materials of different citrus crops  such  as  the famed Khasi Mandarin, Assam Lemon, Sweet Orange etc. The Office began to treat Umlakro Farm as a future hub which would provide quality planting  materials  to neighbouring  villages and  their  farmers.  A model Floriculture Centre was also set up during the year 2013-2014 as the area was found suitable for the cultivation of flowers such as Dendrobium, Phalaenopsis and Blue Vanda.

Before these intervention by the District Horticulture Office Nongpoh, Jirang was known for  widespread jhum cultivation practices broom grass cultivation  and timber logging. The forests in the State are major carbon sinks and home to agro-biodiversity which needs to be protected  adequately. Jhum cultivation leads to removal of tons of biomass, higher rate of run-off of rainwater leading to drinking water shortage and even drought.

Today the farm has managed to integrate horti-tourism elements alongside establishment of modern nurseries for citrus, poly houses, mother blocks, hi tech green houses, water harvesting structures, power generators, vermi compost units, root stock blocks etc.  

(The Writer works as Assistant Director of Agriculture, Department of Agriculture Meghalaya and can be reached at