When Surama Hazarika stepped into her present home after marriage from her village, the area was devastated by the flood of Dikrong river some two decades back.
The entire plain was covered with sand and silt left by the overflowing water of the river where Surama supported her husband to grow some vegetables and raise cattle.
Now the woman is striking gold, earning at least 3 lakhs of rupees from jujube plants she has on the left hand bank of river Dikrong in Deeghali Chapori, Harmutty under Bihpuria revenue circle in Lakhimpur district.
Surama is having 700 jujube plants in her orchard spreading over an area of ten bighas of land.
It all began six year ago when a contact from a nursery in Dinhata in West Bengal Surama brought 100 saplings costing Rs 25, 000.
“The cost of saplings increased to Rs 350 each till they reach my farm,” recounts Surama adding the expenditure incurred during their transportation.
From first year of fruiting one plant started producing 30 kilos of jujubes. The saplings are planted in April-May and from August on the same year they bloom.
The jujubes become ripe and ready for plucking from November and continue to there till late February. The plants then increased their products giving 70 kilos of jujubes from the fourth year.
Presently Surama’s orchard has three varieties of jujubes—the smaller Bau Kul, Apple Kul and Kasi Kul. All these variants are from Bangladesh, she says.
The jujube orchard of Surama has turned a sandy and barren river bank area into a green patch of horticulture wonder preventing the loss of soil moisture and stopping erosion. She has developed her orchard in a complete organic way.
Fruit whole sellers visit her home in the farmland daily to buy her products. She earns Rs. 60 per kilo in the smaller variant of the jujube while the bigger one fetches Rs. 50 per kilo.
The retail price of the jujube of her orchard shoots up to Rs 80 to Rs 100 in the local markets in Lakhimpur district. Besides attaining economic self-reliance, she is contributing tremendously towards sustainable eco-system with no damage to the environment and creating afforestation.
This economically empowered woman of rural Lakhimpur laments that no state agencies have come forward to her in extending support and expertise so far.
“A team from Assam Agriculture University, Jorhat did pay a visit in January this year and a follow up is being expected,” says Surama. She also complains about indifference by district agriculture department though they made some visits.
The biggest problem that this orchard of jujube and other fruits are facing is the lack of electricity connection. The area where this farm is located is yet to be covered by electricity for which Surama uses a diesel powered pump-set to irrigate her plantations. The rising price of fuel is also adding extra costs to her products.
Jujube (Ziziphus mauritiana) is a popular tropical fruit in Assam and south Asia and they are superior in nutrition and good sources of fibre and less in fat and protein.
Obese or overweight people can readily intake more and more of it excluding apprehension. Besides consumption, various processed products like pickles and jams are made from jujube.