Ukhrul: Meet Manipur's Awungshi Shimray Augustina who left a lucrative job in Gordon Max in Singapore and came back to her home at Poi village in Ukhrul bordering Myanmar to start apple farming.
Augustina A Shimray, a young woman from Poi village in Ukhrul's northern region, is one of those first-time growers who have proven apple cultivation not just as a real possibility but also as a commercially viable means of living for the local villagers.
"I got my first harvest this year, which came two years after I planted the saplings back in April 2019," said Augustina A Shimray.
In April 2019, Augustina planted 55 saplings of which 52 survived. "From the produce of 210 kilograms of Apple, she harvested 130 kilograms this year and 70 kilograms is yet to be harvested," said Augustina.
The harvest practically changed the people's perception in the district and Northeast towards apple as a cultivable product in the region.
Over the years, Manipur and Mizoram are now seeing good quality and quantity of apple yields.
Augustina explained the tedious process and care she took while planting the saplings. They were planted in virgin soil mixed with pig manure extremely rich in nutrient density. Exposure to maximum sunlight is another important factor to be looked for while planting the saplings, she added while speaking to Ukhrul Times
Dorsett Golden and Anna, a variety of apples are suitable for the climatic conditions so far and are sold for Rs 200 per kilogram said, Augustina. She also added plating of two more expensive Red Fuji saplings and Green Spurs which did not bear any fruit.
Augustina has inspired many local farmers to expand farmland to attain marketable quantity, but the high demand for manure, fencing, manpower and crucial mechanism to make the product more commercial-friendly is still a concern.
At present, she is engaging her siblings to assist her in looking after her orchard which is located within a walkable distance from her house.
For Manipur hill districts farmers, relying on rice, pineapple, and banana products, the pilot project of apple cultivation comes as an additional economic boost. Today good quality apples are being sold for Rs 2,500 to Rs 3000 per standard box (20 kilograms) in Manipur mostly imported from Moreh.