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Turmeric can change life of Meghalaya farmers

Saidul Khan in Shillong

In Tamil Nadu it cost worth Gold but in Meghalaya it is readily available. The yellow spice Turmeric can be well grown in the suitable climate here

which can change the lives of many rural farmers in the State.



For most of us it will be difficult to believe that in Erode, Tamil Nadu, a 100 kilogram bag of turmeric now cost more than 8 grams of gold. Erode is the world's largest producer and most important trading centre of turmeric in Asia, and has seen its turmeric trading prices shoot up 30 percent in value over the past few months.

Turmeric is a demand spice because its use as an ingredient in almost all curry all over India. However, the production is low except in Erode. The demand for turmeric can be supplied if Meghalaya takes the lead in its production.

Lakadong Turmeric grown in Jaintia Hills is said to be one of best. However, the production is low and sold at a very low price.

NEDFi Data Bank says that in 2004-05 Meghalaya produce an average yield of 5363 kg/hectare. The total production stands at 8752 tonne, cultivated at a total area of 1682 hectare.

Lakadong Turmeric is a much sought after variety by the extraction industry because of its high curcumin content (<5.5). It is a location specific variety grown in Meghalaya. Spices Board proposes to extend its organic cultivation in 1000 ha during the plan period by providing Rs.12,500/- per ha as subsidy.

Iaryntih Self Help Group member, Demmon Pala aged about 34 years mother of six children from Mowkyndeng village has seen a change in her lifestyle. They are actively involved in growing and marketing Lakadong turmeric.

For being a resourceful and hardworking member in her group, Pala who was chosen as an executive member now holds the position of a President in the Laskein Federation of SHGs, a federation of sixteen SHGs actively involved in producing, processing and marketing of the Lakadong turmeric. Though, at present it is sold only in the local markets.

Many others in the village like Pala are seeing a transformation in their living standard by growing turmeric. The climate suitable for its growth in Meghalaya can transform lives of many other rural growers if more intervention and technical know-how is given to the growers with a constructive policy and a strategy to properly market the yield.

“My task is to provide direction and encouragement to my fellow members to work together as a team and help each other so that we can progress forward”, said Pala. The commitment shown to work by Pala should be a model for all others to follow so that as a whole community can take up this activity and progress.

The Meghalaya Rural Development Society - Livelihood Finance Company (MRDS-LIFCOM) is supporting and giving the technical know-how to the group. They are now getting skilled and are ready to increase their production from 70 MT to 700 MT. The group has applied for organic certification and AGMARK certification and is applying for various loans to make the industry viable.

It is understood that they are getting quality seed production now being certified at the state level for its high yield content and have learned the technique to grade it. It is only with various stakeholders such initiative can be supported and encouraged which have an immense scope for promotion taking into consideration the present trend and scenario.

India accounts for about 80 per cent of world turmeric production with about 1.5 lakh hectares under cultivation, with Andhra Pradesh occupying almost 40 per cent of area coverage and 63 per cent in production share.

Turmeric production in India has been fluctuating throughout last decade. The production was at 3.92 lakh tonnes in 1990-91, 7.07 lakh tonnes in 1993-94 and 7.196 lakh tonnes in 2000-01. The output in 2002-03 was recorded at 5.82 lakh tonnes and 6.78 lakh tonnes in 2004-05. This year the industry estimates a total production at 51 lakh tonnes as against 46 lakh tonnes last year. Not only India is the largest producer of turmeric in the world but also largest consumer.

Domestic consumption accounts for nearly 93-94 per cent of the total production. India exports this member of spices family for medicinal and other purposes to almost all developed countries.

December 2009