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| Last Updated:04/10/2019

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Non-indigenous fruits thrive under climate change

 Source: The Sangai Express

Imphal, June 18 2019: The rapid change in the climate and temperatures in recent times, has led to many non-indigenous plants, fruits and vegetables thriving in the place.

Earlier these non-indigenous fruits and vegetables were brought from outside the State and hence were expensive.

In stark contrast to the past, nowadays in many places, including Imphal and its surrounding areas and roads like Tiddim road, Imphal-Dimapur road and Imphal-Moreh roads, people can be seen selling watermelons as well as many summer fruits as a means of livelihood.

Sunusiphai village is a village which is situated around 40 kilometres from Imphal, in Bishnupur district.

The villagers earn their livelihoods by planting watermelons and selling them at the road sides as well as in the main markets of the State.

Many stalls can be seen on both sides of the road near the village where people sell water melons to passers-by in the scorching summer season.

Speaking to The Sangai Express, one of the watermelon sellers, Nongthombam Nayani (47) said that their village has been cultivating watermelons for 4-5 years now and in the past, planting watermelons was near impossible but now, the produce is so great that the watermelons can even be exported to the markets.

She explained that since the watermelons are not properly cultivated in the village during February and March, they are usually brought in from Moreh and sold.

But by April, the watermelons grown in the village are ready to be sold.

The watermelons produced in the village will be sold till around August when other crops will take the place of the watermelons, she added.

Stating that she has been selling watermelons for around 3 years now, Nayani said that she is able to sell around Rs 2000 - 5000 worth of watermelons per day and added that the other fruits and vegetables which she sells in her makeshift vending space in-front of her house, is in hot demand among the passers-by.

On the other hand, environmentalist Dr Kh Shamungou said that the appearance of many plants, which were earlier unable to thrive in the State, due to the rise in temperature is a boon of sorts for the farmers as it has provided an avenue for earning income.

He informed that most of such plants, mainly the watermelons grown in the State, are hybrids and hybrids are usually low maintenance plants.

But in the attempt to cultivate these plants, adverse impact to the environment can be seen, he opined.

Nodal Officer of Climate Change, State Horticulture Department, Additional Director M Kirankumar said that the appearance of plants and fruits, which were once unable to grow in the State is a direct result of climate change.

Apples were once grown abundantly in Ukhrul but now, it is not so.

As the State is getting hotter, litchi and grapes are being planted in large scale now and the rise in temperature has also resulted in the grapes produced in the State getting sweeter, he explained.

Nodal Officer of Climate Change Cell, Directorate of Environment, Deputy Director Dr T Brajakumar said that similar to the disappearance of apples from Himachal Pradesh, the cultivation of fruits and plants in the State has to adapt to the changing environment as the climate will not revert to the original state.

Pointing out that the temperature in the State has increased by around 2 to 4 points during the last 40 years, he said that it will be important to consult the experts and attempt to plant corresponding fruits and rice varieties as per the changing climate.

On the other hand, Manipur Organic Mission Agency Project Director and Horticulture Deputy Director K Devadutta said that cultivation of plants which were impossible to grow in the past, due to change in temperature is, in a way, a boon for the farmers and people as their livelihood and employment potential have been increased.

Even though the change in climate presents such positive opportunities, it also results in disappearance of many native plants as well as the gene pool, he added.