Few farmers from Manipur who had participated in the innovators-cum-entrepreneurs’ meet organised at CSIR-North East Institute of Science and Technology in Jorhat said that they are “raring to explore newer fields in cultivation”. However, financial constraints is coming in the way of expansion plans.
Surjit Puyam and Ningthem Singh who were among the 17-member group of farmers from Manipur informed that they are traditional mushroom cultivators but were now looking to grow Cordyceps militaris.
Cordyceps militaris is a kind of species of edible mushroom and 1 kg of it sells for Rs 1.5 lakh to Rs 2 lakh.
“We are seeking CSIR-NEIST help to grow this mushroom which has great medicinal values,” Puyam remarked.
“The mushroom is said to help the immune system and also helps cure kidney and lung diseases. It is much sought after by the pharmaceutical industry and sells for Rs 4 lakh per kg in liquefied form,” he further informed.
The climate of Manipur during winter is conducive to grow Cordyceps militaris, Puyam shared.
On the other hand, Debakanta, former president of All Assam Taekwondo Association and member, Extension Education Council, Central Agricultural University, Manipur, has preserved 300 paddy germ plasms indigenous to the region.
The paddy includes both flood tolerant and drought resistant varieties.
“I have started growing the black glutinous joha rice which is exported. In Manipur, we are fond of glutinous rice,” he shared. He has now taken to planting aromatic and medicinal plants.
S Ingomacha Singh, in just over two years, has become the managing director of M/s MIDC Enterprise and master trainer of farmers.
He cultivates and processes more than 10 aromatic and medicinal plants. Having received training at Kanauj in UP, he returned to Manipur to take up cultivation on 10 hectares of land and has now leased 50 hectares.
W Lamnganba too plants lemongrass which he said is used as a painkiller, massage oil and in soaps, detergents, cleaners and deodoriser.
He is also into growing plants which yield essential oils like patchouli, citronella and vetiver as well as black ginger and black turmeric.
He has recently taken to growing the lucrative stevia, the wonder plant which replaces sugar and can be taken by diabetics.
Most of them have received training in cultivation of crops and processing of essential oils at NEIST.
As HB Singh, scientist in-charge, CSIR-NEIST branch lab, Imphal, puts it, “The technology may have been produced in Jorhat, but it is in Manipur that it is getting transformed into commercial ventures.”