Mizo Vegetable Mustard

The hilly state of Mizoram is considered by many to be a pioneer in organic farming and is one of the few states in India that barely uses chemical pesticides and inorganic fertilizers. The farming community has for centuries adopted jhum cultivation and relied heavily on indigenous varieties of agricultural and horticultural produce.


Mizoram is blessed with dense forest cover, diverse flora and fauna and varied agro-climatic conditions and soil types that are ideal for the cultivation of different vegetables, pulses, oilseeds, fruits, rice and millets. The produce is sold locally as well in domestic markets across the country and overseas. Many processing industries are procuring their organic produce for value-added products.


One of the most famous crops of Mizoram cultivated across the state is Chinese or vegetable mustard (Brassica juncea var. rugosa). This leafy mustard is used in a number of local delicacies, salads, soups and curries.


The local mustard, French mustard, high – yielding and hybrid varieties are grown between October – November (rabi season) in mainly medium to low lying lands and is intercropped with maize. This particular farming technique has gone a long way in rejuvenating the soil and improving the quality and overall production per hectare. This intercropping thrives in the areas prone to drought or delayed or limited release of water from the canals due to low rainfall.


Also known as Indian mustard, brown mustard, Oriental mustard, leaf mustard and vegetable mustard, this native crop has a strong bitter flavour. It is generally boiled or steamed or stir – fried or pickled. Mustard is revered by locals for its healing, nutritional and medicinal properties.


It is rich in Vitamin K, A, C, E and B6, copper, iron and potassium, antioxidants and anthocyanins (red, blue and purple varieties). It is often used in traditional medicine to treat heart related ailments, diabetes and improve immunity.


The government of Mizoram along with the central government is making a sustained effort to encourage small and marginal farmers to switch to zero, natural and organic farming, drip irrigation and water harvesting, mulching with locally available grasses, crop residues, maize and shrubs in the dry period and technology – based cropping patterns and seed management to improve the soil health, ecosystem, productivity and quality of produce.


Written by Lakshmi Subramanian

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