Ampati, April 25: Chief Minister Dr Mukul Sangma urged upon the farmers to take up ramie cultivation saying that the cultivation of this “golden plant” would not only give additiol income to the farmers and create opportunities for livelihood but also help in increasing the forest cover and taking care of the environment. He was addressing the farmers as the chief guest during the launch of the training-cum-workshop on Ramie cultivation in the Multi-Facility Centre at Ampati on Saturday. Organized by the Department of Agriculture, the training is being conducted for the farmers of the region by ICAR and Ramie Research Centre, Sorbhog. According to the Chief Minister, ramie plantation will be taken up in all parts of Meghalaya to boost the State’s economy. The ramie, which is called the “miracle crop”, is said to be the strongest tural fibre in the world and has multiple uses. While its fibres can be made to various kinds of fabrics for clothing and other uses, its rhizomes and leaves can also be sold as they are edible for both humans but animals and as such can be used as fodder for livestock. The returns after the first year of cultivation alone exceed Rs. 1 lakh per hectare, according to one of the resource persons in the programme. Highlighting the versatility of ramie plant, Dr. Sangma said that farmers should learn from their past mistakes while taking up plantations and stressed the need for proper engagement between farmers and experts, who should be basically represented by the officers of the department. “Every Agriculture officer must make a programme and discuss with the villagers, the amount of cultivable land they have and what will be the best option for cultivation and what are the schemes being given by the government”, he said.
Once the cultivation of ramie is taken up by the farmers there will be a need for storage facilities as the production is going to be huge, Dr. Sangma said urging the department to identify available godowns and also assured that the government would fix support price for the farmers. He also informed that he has been engaging with some industrialists who make textiles out of ramie fibre and that there is already one textile plant coming up in Ampati, adding that funds have been sanctioned to the Industries Department to set up Industrial Promotion Centres in every district of the State to attract investors.
Stressing on the need for the farmers to go for the best means of cultivation, the Chief Minister said farmers should be encouraged to take up mixed plantation, to plant bamboo and agar with ramie so that they get maximum returns. Since the leaves and rhizomes of Ramie make good fodder for livestock, he also called for convergence of the programme with dairy farming under Livestock Mission that can open up lots entrepreneurship opportunities.
Others who also spoke on the occasion were South West Garo Hills Deputy Commissioner Ram Singh, Director of ICAR, Umiam Dr. S. V. Ngachan, Asstt. Director, Agriculture, Plant Protection Meril N. Sangma and a Ramie farmer from Bolchugre village in South West Garo Hills.
Earlier, the Director of Agriculture, Dorothy Syiemiong in her welcome address informed the gathering that the scheme was an initiative of the Chief Minister to generate employment and uplift the general masses.