GOALPARA, Oct 30 - This is not an example of any kind of Government initiative for facilitating social, economic and political reintegration of ex-militants, but is the sole effort by a group of five youths, out of them three belonging to the ceasefire ULFA group, who have taken up papaya cultivation in a nondescript village named Jonaimari near Dudhnoi under Kushdhowa Block and have managed to script a success story.
The youths, namely Karna Ray, Basudev Basumatary, Promothes Ray from the ceasefire ULFA group along with Jiten Basumatary and Parag Basumatary, established a farmers� group titled Pancha Jyoti farmers� group and have become some sort of an example in the district by proving that farming can be a profitable avocation.
They introduced �Red Lady�, a high- yielding variety of papaya in a 5-bigha plot of farm land where they planted around 1,000 saplings in April last. And significantly, all have been done without the help of chemical fertilizer. Boiled neem water has been used instead as pesticide, besides cowdung and compost manure.
It may be mentioned that papaya is a tropical fruit having commercial importance because of its high medicinal and nutritive value and �Red Lady� is a hybrid dwarf variety.
According to the group�s members, it took 4 months to bear fruit, while plucking was done after 6 months. At present the farm produces around a quintal of ripe papaya daily and the average production of crop per plant is around 40 to 60 kg.
Talking to this Correspondent, Karna Ray, who leads the group, said that it was definitely not an easy task for them, as despite having no knowledge about agriculture, they began cultivating papayas, apart from a sizable amount of investment which they had to invest for maintaining the labourers for tending the crop.
Ray said they are expecting assured returns and remunerative price for their produce which is 100% organic. But so far they are finding it a bit difficult to find buyers to sell around 1 quintal of papaya daily.
He also regretted that despite the Government having numerous agricultural institutions for helping farmers to transport their produce from the farmland to the markets by providing competent marketing information, not a single agricultural institution has come forward for providing them the necessary forward marketing linkages.
He added that no Government department has come forward to extend any kind of help to them even though he is elated that many people have started visiting their farm as they have been able to convert a patch of barren land into a biodiversity farm.
Ray further added that the initial period of their venture had been very tough, but the group has introduced inter-cropping in order to achieve greater yield on the farm, besides pisciculture, which gives them an additional income from the community water tank which is spread over one hectare nearby, which they have taken under a lease.
Even though the group has displayed the much-needed enthusiasm, but they are still struggling to reap the fruits of their labour. They obviously expect help from the district administration to earn and live decently.