|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.
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)