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Garo village enterprise changing lives

By Biplab Kr Dey

TURA, Jan 25 � In an inspiring story of innovation, a remote village in West Garo Hills � Rangmangre has used the rich fruit diversity in the area to produce juice under its own brand name �Chengga� to bring about a change in the lives of the villagers.

Taking advantage of the rich variance in seasonal fruits and wild berries, the village since 2010 has been producing juices which has become a rage not only within the West Garo Hills district but also in other parts of Garo Hills.

The villagers of Rangmangre under Gambegre development block, about 50 kms from Tura, conceptualised the idea of producing the juice in 2010. The village consists of 55 households and borders Bangladesh. The project was promoted under the Ministry of DoNER�s North Eastern Region Community Resource Management Project for Upland Areas (NERCOMP).

The idea was first mooted by Rozillar M Marak, a member of Natural Resource Management Group (NaRM-G) during its group meeting for production of juice.

�We have a vast area under orange and pineapple cultivation. We felt that if we could start processing juices, it will be viable and mooted the idea to NERCOMP. They provided us the technical assistance and we started the juice processing unit�, said Marak. The unit is a small one run by NaRM-G and women self help group (SHG) in the village. The village produces about 1,500 litres of juice every month.

�In different seasons, we produce different varieties. The juices are made from available fruits in the village. We also produce juice out of wild berries, like mulberry�, he added.

Marak explained that juice of Indian gooseberries is a hot favourite in the market, as it has medicinal value. �Over the years, we have been able to reach out to almost all markets in Garo Hills�, he quipped.

The NaRM-G of Rangmangre manages a sustained income by selling the juices in the local market. A 500 ml bottle of juice is priced at Rs 100 in the local market.

Though the management of the juice production is handled by NaRM-G, the women SHGs makes an extra income by selling the juice. �We get Rs 20 as commission on sale of each bottle�, said a member of women SHG.

The juice processing unit has given the villagers a reason to smile. It is their sheer willingness, which has given them a space of their own and pride in their produce. Their brand is also being promoted and marketed by NERCORMP as �Neat Chengga Juice�, which is now going beyond the Garo Hills.

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