The surplus production of fruits, spices, vegetables, wild mushrooms, rare medicinal and aromatic herbs, paddy, wheat and others in the North Eastern state of Arunachal Pradesh is greatly attributed to the prevailing agro-climatic conditions. Arunachal can be divided into three regions climatically – temperate, subtropical and tropical with each zone cultivating certain crops.
Changlang district lies in the subtropical zone with horticulture, livestock, crop and fisheries as the main source of income. This district lies on the Indo-Myanmar border and is now rapidly becoming an agriculture and horticulture cluster. Excellent government initiatives in recent years has seen transformation in the lives of the indigenous tribes whose wealth of agricultural knowledge is now being put to use.
From spices like ginger and turmeric to mushrooms to pineapple jams and orange, strawberry and passion fruit and now areca nut, this district is transforming into a major food processing hub thanks to the Singpho, Tangsa Naga, Khampti, Deori, Nocte and Lisu tribes who have settled here centuries ago.
Changlang district experiences both tropical and subtropical weather conditions with excessive rainfall, hot and humid summers and cool to freezing winters. The natural hilly terrain with alluvial and residual soil is ideal for growing areca nut, pineapple, turmeric, moringa and black pepper.
The tribal people have generally adopted the traditional jhum cultivation but are now progressing towards diversified multi-cropping agriculture using high-yielding varieties that will not only improve the soil health but increase productivity per hectare thereby, providing steady income even during the harshest times. All crops are cultivated in the organic manner and the quality of the produce speaks for itself.
Areca nut has been grown extensively in many pockets here for centuries. Changlang areca nut has a distinctive green colour as it begins to mature and its shape, texture, size and cross-section is specific to that variety. As it is grown in soil rich in organic matter, the areca nut takes on a vibrant yellow colour as it ripens. The ripened nuts are dried in the sun and sold in local markets.
The demand for this organically grown areca nut has been increasing steadily and Changlang areca nut is now finding its way to the markets of Delhi, Maharashtra, Rajasthan and Lucknow. Central Government, NABARD and North East India Committee on Relief and Development (NEICORD) have been working with the people of this district to promote livelihood through sustainable agriculture.
Written by Lakshmi Subramanian
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