Thanamir Village located on the foothills of Mount Saramati, often referred to as the ‘pride of the Nagas’ is perhaps one of the most beautiful villages of Asia. This village in Kiphire district is near the India–Myanmar border and is blessed with stunning natural beauty, huge diversity of flora and fauna, dense forest cover and pristine river waters.
Thanamir village is better known as the ‘Apple Village’ of Nagaland and its agro-climatic conditions (high altitude of 896 m above mean sea level, hot and humid summers with cold winters and abundant rain in the monsoon season and fertile soil rich in organic matter) is favourable for cultivating their world-famous apple, banana, pineapple, kiwi, orange, guava and mango.
In fact, this agricultural community that used to depend heavily on jhum cultivation for decades has benefited immensely from the various pro-farmer schemes, subsidies, training and value-added products that the central government has introduced since 2014. Small and marginal farmers are now exclusively trained on grafting, organic, zero and natural farming, water and soil conservation and rejuvenation respectively and cultivation of horticultural crops that has gone a long way to improve their standard of living.
The thriving horticultural community has spread to nearby villages as well and this excellent initiative by the central government has opened up more opportunities for the rural economy. Various agriculture and horticulture organizations of the government have been educating and supplying the locals with low chilling varieties of apple grafts to increase the average production per tree.
The entire village is working harmoniously to see that every backyard has at least 50 to 300 trees and more. Grafting is normally done in June – July and the new graft plants bear fruit after two years. Flowering takes place in March – April and harvesting is done in the last week of August – September.
It is estimated that more than 40 – 50 metric tonnes are produced annually in Thanamir and surrounding villages. These organic apples are unbelievably juicy, with the right amount of tartness and incredibly crunchy. Green apples are either eaten raw or steamed or used for salads. The red apples are preferred to make juice and wine.
A vibrant festival is organized annually in the month of September to encourage the local farming community to showcase their produce and delicious pickles, juice, puree, candied apple, green apple salad, apple concentrate and apple wine. These apples have so far been sold only within the district and if marketed well, can be sold across the country as they have a good shelf life.
Written by Lakshmi Subramanian