Agriculture is one of the most important pillars of the Meghalaya’s economy. More than 80% of the population in Meghalaya is dependent on agriculture for its subsistence. It is one of the most important aspect of economic development, it has been one of the main drivers of growth of the economy as it supplies was a major source of natural produces to most of the manufacturers.
In spite, of its great significance to Meghalaya’s economy, the share of agriculture and its allied activities in Meghalaya is continuously declining over the years. This predicament is caused due to many factors that are cropping problems to farmers. Our Zizira explorers team are always learning by working closely with famers. Here are a few insights we have on the agricultural problems faced by farmers in Meghalaya.
Here are 5 Common Problems Faced by Farmers of Meghalaya
1 Problems faced by farmers in Meghalaya is not visible at first glance!
Driving past the lush paddy fields and fruit laden trees of Shillong, one can’t help but feel envious of the people who work in those fields. The beauty and serenity of their surroundings never cease to calm the white collar worker’s mind which is bursting with number crunching and information overload 24x7!
2. Fragmented land holdings
Between 1951 and 2001, the population of Northeast India saw a 350% increase. And with this kind of growth, it was inevitable that the pressure on land would only increase. As an example, 81% of the population of Meghalaya is agrarian, with individual land holding averaging half an acre. This fact has resulted in numerous side effects which are already causing long term damage.
3 Lack of a stable market
In a recent interview with Mr. Barry Syiem, he stated that unless the markets don’t open up, farmers will continue to grow conventional crops, which in turn, are heavily influenced by the market. Since markets won’t open up, farmers refuse to experiment with new crops. And needless to say, the ones to suffer from this predicament are the farmers.
A Story of a Traditional Turmeric Farmer
The Jaintia Hills District of Meghalaya is home to the finest turmeric in the world with its “Lakadong” variety. Here, subsistence and marginal farmers cultivate turmeric for self–consumption and sale at the local markets. But that doesn’t take away the high demand it has both at the national and international spice market. Lakadong turmeric is believed to have more than 7% curcumin content, (an extract from turmeric which is said to have medicinal properties) that’s one of the highest in the world.
Zizira’s explorers recently travelled all over the Jaintia Hills in a bid to work with the turmeric farmers there and in the process, open up the market for them.
Next Generation Farmers Moving Away from Farming?
What happens if next generation farmers move away from farming in an agrarian economy? This question came up during a Zizira field visit where the team met with farmers who have been following farming as that is what their parents did.
"Meghalaya is basically an agricultural state with about 80% of its population depending entirely on agriculture for their livelihood" says Wikepedia.
A team of two visited Umlyngka village in East Khasi Hills District of Meghalaya in the last week of April 2015. We bring you their first–hand report – on the fruits and vegetables that grow there and a hard working lady farmer they met.