Lemongrass, an alternative to poppy cultivation

Imphal: Chief minister N. Biren Singh chaired a consultative meeting of village chiefs of different villages of Ukhrul district, which are affected by destruction of poppy plants under ‘War on Drugs’ campaign at chief minister’s secretariat on Saturday.

Plantation and processing of lemongrass as an alternative livelihood for affected villagers was the main agenda of the meeting.

In a PowerPoint presentation prepared by the tribal affairs and hills department, it was informed that state government has sought approval of a project costing Rs 6.8 crore from the Union ministry of tribal affairs regarding plantation of lemongrass in 130 hectares of different hill districts of the state. Necessary steps have been taken up to implement a pilot project costing Rs 60 lakh by the Manipur Food Industries Corporation Ltd. to plant lemongrass on 10 hectares of Senapati district and three hectares in Ukhrul district. The project may further expand if it is successful. The state RD&PR department has also given permission to the plantation of lemongrass under MGNREGA.

Biren said the government is trying to provide alternative means of livelihood to poppy growers. He directed the officials to convene a joint meeting of all the concerned officials and stakeholders to identify the villages where lemongrass plantation may commence. He said villagers would automatically switch to other occupations if the government provides proper assistance. Suitable livelihood activities may also be identified keeping in view the climatic and soil condition and interest of villagers, he added.

Tribal affairs and hills minister  Vungzagin Valte, social welfare minister O. Henry, MLAs TN Haokip, DD Thaisii, Ngamthang Haokip, Yamthong Haokip, Ginsuanhau, Khasim Vashum,  K. Leishiyo, Alfred Kanngam Arthur, DGP LM Khaute, commissioner (home) Gyan Prakash, special secretary (TA and hills) Chiphang Arthur Worchuiyo, Ukhrul DC Joshep Pauline Kamson, Ukhrul SP Worngam Ningshen and other high ranking officers of police department were also present in the meeting.

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