Image: DIPR, Manipur

Manipur Forest and Environment Minister Thounaojam Shyamkumar opined that Agar Wood (aquilaria agallocha) plantation with scientific inputs from experts can help in controlling the jhum cultivation in Manipur.

He said that they have potential to provide another source of livelihood for the farmers.

Minister Shyamkumar was speaking at the inaugural function of Forest Department sponsored one day state level seminar on management of yongchak (parkia timoriana) and agar plantation in Imphal on Saturday.

More than one lakh families practice Jhum cultivation in Manipur, according to reports.

Minister Shyamkumar who also hold urban development portfolio also opined that the yongchak and agar tree plantation will also surely help in environmental conservation.

He appealed to the people to attend seminars and workshops so that there is public awareness on such fields with the suggestions and knowledge shared by the experts besides spreading more awareness.

Additional chief secretary (Forest and Environment) Suhel Akhtar and principal chief conservator of forest K Angami also have a similar sentiment in their respective inaugural function speeches.

But unfortunately Yongchak or tree bean, a popular delicacy with unique flavour in Manipur, is declining due to certain diseases since past few years and a result it was imported from the neighbouring countries due to high demand.
The scientists and scholars from different institutes, NGOs, progressive farmers attending the seminar also shared their experiences and traditional knowledge to reduce the mortality of the yongchak.

Principal scientist Dr H Birkumar of CSIR-North East Institute of Science and Technology, Branch Lamphelpat participating in the discussion suggested to document the experiences of the farmers for better research while Dr Lokho Puni,a key person behind the day’s seminar representing Forest department appealed the participants to take the day’s opportunity.

Meanwhile a senior scientist Dr RK Borah of Rain Forest Research Institute (RFRI), Jorhat who conducted a study on the decline of Yongchak in Manipur,Mizoram and Nagaland said that the decline of tree bean in these states is because of some disease.

The scientists claimed Insects (long horn beetle and shot hole borer) and fungi could be the major factor for decline of tree beans adding that they have also developed certain scientific measures for to deal with the complex disease.

In his presentation on agar tree plantation, the RFRI scientist said around 15 million agarwood trees belonging to two different species out of 17 species in the world, grows in India.

The maximum agar trees among NE states grows in Assam.Wild agar wood trees also grows in Manipur’s Jiribam and Noney areas, he added.

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