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Kharkutta sets example as a blooming agrarian economy

Philip Marwein

Kharkutta is one of the most promising constituencies of North Garo Hills district of Meghalaya with development in agriculture, horticulture and allied activities. It also has rich potential in tourism.
The constituency is ideally located in Meghalaya bordering the intersections of Assam, the gateway to major parts of Garo Hills and bordering West Khasi Hills district. It is in an advantageous position in all aspects as it is blessed with internal road connectivity within the constituency, which includes the major highways of Boko to Paikan-Krishnai of Assam-Meghalaya and NH-62 connecting Dudnoi-Rongjeng-Nengkhra-Nangalbibra-Baghmara-Dalu.
This favourable position of roads has enabled the constituency and other parts of the district to facilitate easy transport for local residents and locally produced goods within the constituency, in the district and to the Assam markets and even outside Assam.
As the constituency is rich in agriculture and horticulture, its produce include banana, areca nut, rubber, ginger, black pepper, pineapples, broomstick, jack fruit, mango, tapioca, yam, oranges, guavas, litchi, chillies, a variety of vegetables, rice varieties, like local sticky rice and aromatic Joha, among other things.
In fact, so many food processing units like in banana chips, banana honey, banana wine in Chilpara village, honey farming and honey-banana food products like wine, chips, pakawra and so many blended products in Mendima village and other small ventures in other villages are testimony to the prolific economy of the place.
Moreover, cooperative societies have been formed through the encouragement of local MLA Rupert Momin. The Nangrime Integrated Village Cooperative Society Ltd, Gairong, under the presidentship of Haru Momin and Billingston Marak as secretary, was formed to start the pseudo-banana stem manufacturing unit, the first in the village near the Gairong market and in close proximity to NH-62.
To implement what has been planned by the cooperative society A’We Banana Pseudo-Stem Co-operative Society Ltd, Gairong, North Garo Hills, was formed under the presidentship of Arthaban Sangma and Demure T.

The author (right) with Kharkutta MLA Rupert Momin

Sangma, with many members from Gairong and nearby villages. The sole objective of this venture is to manufacture fibre, waste paper, soda, compost, animal feed and other products from banana stem because so much of banana stem is wasted everywhere in the fields.
If the venture is successful, it will be replicated elsewhere in the villages of the constituency, said secretary Demure.
Then, to tap the rich potential of agro-horticultural activities, especially beekeeping, a few outside agencies identified by NAFED have shown interest in partnering with farmers of Kharkutta and from other parts of North Garo Hills to form the cluster-based Farmers Produces’ Organisations (FPOs).
One of the agencies is Salt Range Foundation on AT Road, Guwahati. The foundation will form the FPOs and register them under the Registration of Companies Act and train the members in apiculture, and support them for three years.
The state government’s interventions like agriculture, horticulture, forest, PWD, PHE are manifested in many ways but the Water Resources, Health, Education, Fishery, Tourism, Sericulture, Industry and others are hardly seen on the ground. In fact, locals are not at all happy with them.
The constituency has greatly improved in road connectivity, agriculture, horticulture and development in youth activities, in the growth of mini and small-scale units, especially in food processing, because of the foresight, hardwork and initiatives taken by Momin.
The other tremendous prospect of economic potential of Kharkutta is tourism. North Garo Hills, including Kharkutta, is blessed with natural richness and beauty. Its landscapes like the Badaka and many others are highly captivating. The community forest cover is thin and the reserve forest near Rongjeng is dwindling. But the lack of green cover is compensated by the vast banana, areca nut and rubber plantations.
The broomstick plantations look green during summer, autumn and winter before harvest time. Then the presence of beautiful crystal clear streams and rivers like the Manda, Chil, Rongchong and Aldek, which are ideal for angling, are mesmerising. Local fish varieties found in the waterbodies include nanil, nadang, nachi, nabat, narong, na.ek, which are similar to those earlier found in the Simsang river of East and South Garo Hills.
There are several captivating tourist picnic spots like the banks of the rivers, N.kachikong waterfall, Mokma water fall, Rong.ma Gitil huge rock and other big rock hills. For those who love paragliding, there are sites which are favourable for the adventure sport.
It may be mentioned here that Kharkutta is the 37th constituency of Meghalaya. Its total present electorate is about 45,000, predominantly the Garos. Its economy is agrarian. Though sand and stone mining exists but in a small scale. Forest products like sal, teak and other valuable timbers also add to the prosperous local economy, which has set an example for other parts of the state.

Photos by author

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