Reports of drying up of Yongchaks (tree bean) continue to come in from a number of villages in Manipur’s Senapati district bordering Nagaland.
Due to drying up of Yongchaks, the villagers have been compelled in the recent past to search for various means of reviving the dying trees.
According to sources, farmers of Ngamju, a village located about 130 km away from Imphal under Purul block in Senapati district, are worried over the recent development in the village as a good number of Yongchak trees have dried up due to reasons unknown to them.
Yongchak beans are bright green. The two most renowned dishes made from Yongchak are Yongchak Singju and Yongchak Iromba which are popular dishes in the State.
“We are not aware of the actual reasons for the drying of these trees. It is not that only the old Yongchak trees are drying but the young ones are also drying,” said Robinson, a resident of Ngamju village, which has around 346 households who earn their livelihood by farming.
Informing that drying up of Yongchak started long back, Robinson said, “This has been happening since 2010 and it badly hit the farmers since 2014 creating fear among the farmers as many of the farmers have lost their sources of income.”
According to sources, Manipur has been witnessing drying up of Yongchak trees due to various reasons including insect attack, unavailability of water source, rise in temperature and lack of proper management etc.
As a result, locally produced Yongchak once disappeared from the Imphal markets.
At one point of time some seven to eight years back after thousands of trees, both in hills and the valley, dried up, Yongchaks were supplied from Yongchak from other places including Myanmar.
Yongchak Eromba or Singju, which is prepared with fermented fish, is one of the most delicious and sought after dish or salad of the Manipuris during winter.
Currently Yongchak is sold at Rs 100 for four to five pieces.
Due to suitable climatic condition and fertility of land, Yongchaks from Ngamju are the best choice of the consumers as they find it healthier with better taste.
“Yongchaks from Ngamju have high market value in Manipur towns,” said T Shangpo, another cultivator from Ngamju village.
Yongchak is one of the main sources of income for most of the families in Ngamju village.
A Yongchak tree can earn an amount in between Rs 20,000 to Rs 30,000 per year.
So a family having 10 trees in his farm can fetch a good amount to run his family, Robinson added.
Robinson appealed to the concerned authorities to send experts to find out the reasons behind the drying of the bean trees and bring out a solution to prevent the trees from drying.
The horticulture experts suggest for proper and integrated approach for management of Yongchak cultivation in the State.
Scientists are also exploring ways to provide necessary remedies after they detected Asian long horn beetle and another smaller beetle as main cause of drying up of Yongchak trees in the past.