The story behind apple revolution in Nagaland

Last Updated: Tuesday, October 11, 2011 - 11:09

Kohima: Three apple saplings gifted to a
Naga village guard in the Saramati mountain range in Nagaland
by an Assam Rifles soldier back in 1980 have triggered an
apple revolution in the area bordering Myanmar.

Hundreds of Naga villagers are now engaged in the
cultivation of the fruit on a mass scale, although they are
yet to reap commercial gains from the produce in the absence
of transportation.

The story began in the late 70s when armed conflicts
between Naga insurgents and security forces were at their
peak, prompting the Assam Rifles to erect a check post at
Thanamir village nestled in the Saramati range.

During this time a government-appointed village guard
from Thanamir had befriended a Nepali soldier belonging to the
Assam Rifles posted at the check post.

The soldier gifted him the saplings in 1980 which the
villager planted in the backyard of his house.

The village guard taught himself to multiply the apple
plants through root cutting and distributed them to his fellow
villagers.

As the fruits grew in most of the households of the
village, the Thalami apples started to spread to other
villages around the Saramati range due to its suitable climate
where average temperature ranges between two to 20 degrees
celsius.

Visiting government officials found the first sapling
to be still standing there at Thanamir village - a full grown
tree now.

Although the villagers in the remote Saramati range in
Kiphire district have been growing quality apples for quite
sometime, it was not known to the outside world until the
arrival of a missionary of the Nagaland Baptist Church
Council, Tangit Longkumer.

With the assistance of NBCC and Horticulture
Department officials, the pastor along with the village
authorities organized the first edition of Apple Festival at
Thanamir on September 29, 2010.

A second Apple Festival at the village organised in
the second week of September, this year captured the attention
of apple lovers from all over the state.

Kaisa Rio, wife of Chief Minister Neiphiu Rio, along
with wives of a dozen legislators attended the festival.
Now the village council of Thanamir has resolved to
make it mandatory for each household to plant at least a
thousand (1,000) apple trees by 2014.

Some families by now own about 300 apple trees with
technical and financial support from horticulture department
under Horticulture Technology Mission-NE (HTM-NE), mission
director N Benjong Aier informed.

Encouraged by the villagers enthusiasm, the
department has already distributed more that 10,000 low
chilling apple grafts to the farmers.

The organic apples grown in the area have added
advantages since the farmers neither use chemical fertilizers
nor pesticides, the department officials said.

The visiting officials to the festival pointed out
although the villagers were relishing fresh and delicious
apples from their kitchen gardens, there were hardly any
commercial returns so far due to lack of transportation.

So, the Thanamir villagers used their home-grown
apples for juice making and as fodder for pigs.

PTI



First Published: Tuesday, October 11, 2011 - 11:09

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