Two South American origin horticulture crops Quinoa and Chia seeds can play a major role in controlling shifting cultivation and illegal poppy cultivation in Manipur, according to the state horticulture officials.
After harvest, the edible seeds of this flowering plant (Quinoa) which could play a key role in providing food security, nutrition and poverty eradication as Quinoa seeds are sold at Rs 500-Rs 1000 a kilogram in Indian markets.
On the other hand Chia, a food rich in omega-3 fatty acid, is sold Rs 1000-2000 a kilogram.
The expected harvest value of quinoa seeds is Rs 15 lakhs from a cultivable land measuring one hectare. On the other hand, the Chia seeds can generate revenue of Rs 10 lakhs from a similar size of land.
At the same time, these crops can be cultivated in hill slopes without much land preparation and crop management like that of poppy cultivation.
Considering all these factors, the two crops which are newly introduced in the country, are currently cultivated on a trial basis across 15 sites in the hill districts of the state under the North Eastern Council funded project “Promotion of Integrated Horticulture Farming System in Shifting Cultivation Areas of Manipur.”
Shifting cultivation and illegal poppy cultivation are two major issues in the state. The government departments including the forest, environment, horticulture, agriculture and home department etc have been taking up various steps to control these issues from time to time. However they have yet to achieve those goals due to various factors.
The forest cover affected due to shifting cultivation is 855 sq km (85,500 hectares) in Manipur as per 2003 forest survey of India report. There are around 70,000 families (80 percent of them are tribal population) are involved in shifting cultivation practices in the state.