Shillong (Meghalaya), Feb 17 : A ‘Farmers Orientation Workshop on Buckwheat in Meghalaya’ was held today in the hall of the Moreau Institute of Integral Training and Research Society (MIIT), here .
Organized by the Meghalaya Farmers’(Empowerment) Commission (MFEC) in collaboration with the Krishi Vigyan Kendra (KVK), East Khasi Hills, Department of Agriculture & Farmers’ Welfare, the workshop was attended by personnel of the KVKs and Agricultural Technology Management Agency (ATMA) of the Khasi, Jaintia Hills and Ri Bhoi districts accompanied by progressive farmers, known as Farmer Friends, of all the blocks of the above districts.
Graced by the presence of K.N. Kumar, Chairman, Meghalaya Farmers’(Empowerment) Commission and in keeping with the Commission’s mandate of serving as a bridge between farmers and the government, the workshop was organized with the objective of facilitating lab to land transfer of knowledge, technology and induction of new crops through creation of awareness amongst extension personnel and progressive farmers or Farmer Friends about buckwheat as a superfood, its nutritive status, its suitability as a supplementary income generating crop in between two main crops for small farmers and its potential as a hardy, low cost, nutritious food security crop very much in demand both within the country and outside, especially Japan.
A pioneering initiative of the Commission together with L. Kharkrang, former Director of Agriculture, interest in buckwheat cultivation was sparked off via the North East Food Show (NEFS) 2019, which exposed our farmers to the potential of the global buckwheat market through their interaction with international buyers. As a result of the Commission’s intervention and tie up with the VKPS, Almora, which provided the initial seed material, a small trial was taken up in the village of Umtong, East Khasi Hills and the KVK, Upper Shillong in 2020 which failed due to the devastating impact of cyclone Amphan. However, trails under protected cultivation in the BRDC, Upper Shillong and subsequent trials in the KVK were successful in the production of seed which became the foundation for a successful pilot plantation of 4 acres involving 25 farmers in 2021.
The recent visit of the Japanese ambassador to Shillong in November 2021 and the Chairman’s article about the crop in a local daily sparked off Japanese interest in buckwheat from Meghalaya as well as enquiries and buy offers from other quarters. In view of the emerging demand for buckwheat, todays’ workshop was a first step towards generating sufficient awareness and momentum to scale up the cultivation of buckwheat from 4 acres to 1000 acres over the next 3 to 4 years with 100 acres tentatively targeted this year itself along with induction of associated post-harvest technology. To this end the learnings from the workshop were very enthusiastically received by the participants especially the Farmers Friends, who saw this crop as an opportunity to better their livelihoods as well as their food security.