Know About Khasi Mandarin
Try peeling a fresh Khasi mandarin, you’ll be amazed by its sweet aromatic juice, which makes the Khasi mandarin a favorite. The renowned Khasi Mandarin of Meghalaya has a tight and smooth skin that makes it different from other mandarin varieties. Though peeling the skin can get tricky at times but the juice is definitely worth it.
Did you know that Meghalaya is also home to the very first species of citric fruits in the world?
Does Meghalaya Have Any Geographical Advantage?
The southern belt of Meghalaya that is home to the War tribes has a specific terroir as this particular region allows the growth of sweet and juicy mandarins. The low altitudes play an important role; they provide the perfect climate to develop the sweetest fruits for the trees.
The flowers of these terroir-bound mandarin trees provide sweet nectar for the local bees, which explains why the honey from this area is famous.
Traditional Methods of Harvest Still Prevailing
Harvested between November and late February, and sometimes even until April. The farmers use a traditional tool woven out of bamboo for collecting the mandarins. This simple yet hardy tool allows the farmer to gently pick the fruit from the tree without injuring the fruits.
The Khasi mandarin has long had a significant presence in the everyday life of the communities in Meghalaya.
According to local belief, it has the ability to dispel anger and so the fruit is given as a present to make up for offenses. Source
Team Zizira did the Homework!
In mid-April 2015, Zizira’s team of explorers made a field visit to Mawphu village. Mawphu village is 20 km from Sohra (Cherrapunjee) where road connectivity is the biggest issue. Fortunately, this has not deterred the hardy folks of this region to produce the famous Khasi Mandarin of Meghalaya.
During our trip, we met Mr. Christopher Sohtun, an inhabitant of Mawphu village and a member of NESFAS (North East Slow Food and Agrobiodiversity Society).
According to Christopher
The government provides them with mandarin saplings but they are not of good quality and at times do not bear fruits. So the farmers use their own saplings as it is unique to their place. The taste of the fruits too is different as compared to mandarins growing in other parts of the states.
Did you know: The Khasi mandarin of Meghalaya has now earned a spot at the GI tagging category. (Source)
Once the mandarin seeds germinate, the saplings are grown together for up to four years. They are then transplanted while maintaining a distance of 5 to 6 feet between saplings. The distribution of trees has to follow a specific direction i.e., if most of its branches are facing towards the east during germination the same direction has to be followed during plantation. The tree may not bear fruits or even rot if the process is not followed.
What Are the Challenges Faced by the Farmers?
- As no artificial pesticides are used, the Mandarin trees tend to rot, which slowly affects the produce. The affects the growth and the tree eventually dries out.
- They do not use any chemical fertilizers in their orchards and this has led to lesser yield.
- There are no facilities to transport their produce and farmers make long, difficult journeys on foot to bring them to the market stalls of nearby villages: Mawphu, Tmar, Pyndengmawlieh, Nongnah.
Zizira is determined to improve the livelihood of farmers of Northeast India and enable better returns by promoting their unique produce and sharing them with the rest of India.