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Tuesday, December 6, 2022

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Tuesday, December 6, 2022

Shangpliang laments govt apathy toward betel nut growers

SHILLONG:

All India Trinamool Congress legislator Himalaya M Shangpliang has accused the Horticulture department of trying to force the betel nut farmers to go for pineapples instead of finding ways to address the bud rot and yellow diseases that are affecting the trees.

Speaking to reporters here on August 23, he wondered whether the department was giving up the fight against the two diseases.

He said he had expected the department would take help of the Indian Council of Agricultural Research scientists to help the betel nut farmers fight the two diseases. Instead, he claimed, the department officials were trying to convince these farmers to switch to pineapple plantation.

Stating that the economics of the two are different, he said the farmers were accustomed to

betel nut plantation so why should they be diverted to pineapple which is not even acceptable to them.

He demanded that the government immediately come to the aid of the farmers.

“I would like to appeal to the government that it should provide relief to the betel nut farmers to do away with the two diseases that the betel nut trees are being affected with,” he said.

He also recalled that when he had raised the issue during the last assembly session, the minister in-charge Agriculture, Banteidor Lyngdoh, had assured that rotting of the betel nut trees in his constituency particularly and the state as a whole would be handled and taken care of by the department at the earliest possible.

Subsequently on July 6 some experts had gone to the border areas of Mawsynram constituency like in Umsawrang area, and tried to test by flying a drone and spraying certain pesticides over the betel nut trees .

“This exercise, according to them, was just a trial, but after that nothing has happened till date. Now the betel nut trees are rotting day by day,” he rued.

He further informed that the minister on the floor of the House on that particular day had said that “we cannot accept the betel nut as it falls under the narcotics Act, considered to be drug. After a day, the minister comes and clarifies that now the betel nut falls under the Meghalaya State Agriculture Produce and Livestock Marketing and Promotion Facilitation Amendment Bill.”

“Well I appreciate that they brought betel nut under this particular amendment bill and if it is so then the betel nut deserves to be given that kind of recognition and the betel nut farmers also deserve to get that kind of assistance be it relief or be it any other grants or financial assistance from the government,” he said adding “Therefore, I appeal to the government particularly the minister in-charge and the chief minister, of course, to kindly look into the problems of the farmers.”

Stating that this problem is just not confined to the Mawsynram constituency, Shangpliang said this problem is throughout the state particularly in the whole of Garo Hills and some belts of the Khasi and Jaintia Hills as well.

“Because this disease is spreading like wildfire and we are going to have lots of betel nut tree┬ádestruction and our farmers will ultimately be left with nothing,” he added.

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