Close on heels of the distribution of more than one lakh fruit bearing and ornamental saplings to Tengnoupal district villages, the troops of 29 Assam Rifles distributed lemon grass as an alternative to poppy cultivation to five villages in Manipur’s Chandel, a border district.
The five villages are Joupi, Saibol Joupi, Tolbung, Hencham and T Bollen, according to PRO, Assam Rifles (South).
The distribution of lemon grass saplings numbering around two lakhs took place in presence of Brigadier Neelesh Bhanot of 28 Sector Assam Rifles on Wednesday.
“This location is one of the most underdeveloped areas in Manipur owing to its remoteness, mountainous terrain and inclement weather lasting a prolonged monsoon season,” said the Assam Rifles PRO in a press release.
“Due to these factors, the local populace has always depended predominantly on the cultivation of the poppy plant.”
With perseverance and a dogged determination, the troops of 29 Assam Rifles has been able to motivate the populace to shun poppy cultivation and embrace lemon grass instead, it said.
Accordingly, the villagers have pledged to cultivate lemon grass as an alternative means of livelihood.
The event went a long way in showing the population the involvement and dedication of the Assam Rifles towards providing an alternate sustainable livelihood option to the hill people.
More such initiatives are planned in the aftermath to fight the all-pervasive illicit poppy cultivation in the area, the release added.
On May 26, Assam Rifles distributed 1,10,000 fruit bearing and ornamental saplings to 31 villages under Tengnoupal district bordering Myanmar to mobilize income generation through afforestation as part of the ongoing project for providing employment to the masses.
Last month, Manipur Chief Minister N Biren Singh lauded the effort of the Assam Rifles for supporting State Government’s mission – ‘War Against Drugs’.
As part of the mission, state agencies had even started destroying poppy plantation in the State.
Under the supervision of Colonel Sachin Jain of 29 Assam Rifles at Joupi area, poppy plantation in about 300 acres of land have been destroyed after the villagers of Joupi and Dingpi area have reportedly agreed to replace the poppy plantation by lemon grass.
The officer also informed at that point of time that they are targeting lemon grass plantation in 250 acres of land out the 300 acres of land used for poppy plantation in the area.