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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