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Traditional lifestyle, farming practices help conserve bio-diversity

 Source: The Sangai Express / Laishram Shamungou

Imphal, July 21 2019: Traditional lifestyle of the Meiteis as well as their agricultural practices have always played a major role in conserving bio-diversity since time immemorial.

Khoijuman is a village located in Bishnupur district, around 28 kilometres from Imphal and is populated by 632 households (29511 people as per the 2011 census).

Since the ancient times, the people of the village have been relying on planting of winter crops, off season crops and vegetables and paddy.

The people of the village, which is situated just beside Thongjaorok river, plant various crops in the surrounding fields like a kitchen garden thus sustaining them all year round.

One of the residents of the village, Thiyam Nutan-chandra (43) conveyed that he plants crop in his field based on the market demands and added that he currently plants beans, ladies finger and cucumbers in a portion of his field.

Traditional lifestyle, farming practices help conserve bio-diversity

Traditional lifestyle, farming practices help conserve bio-diversity

Stating that he usually plant pulses and board beans in the free spaces of his field during paddy cultivation season, Nutan- chandra said that sometimes he even cultivate cauliflowers, cabbages and pulses as well.

The crops are not usually planted after consulting with related experts but are planted based on demand and the condition of the soil, he explained, adding that some of the crops which are planted with seeds harvested during the previous season include Tangkhul Hawai, broad beans and mustard but other crops are nowadays mostly replaced by hybrid ones.

On the other hand, another villager, Chongtham Khogen (43) said that the villagers plant different types of crop so that if one crop fails, they will not lose all their sources of income as they have other crops to fall back to.

The villagers plant those crops which can generate proper income and it is quite easy to maintain these crops as well, he added.

Khogen continued that he does not plant the same kind of plants/crops repeatedly in the same filed in order to prevent outbreak of plant diseases and keep the crops healthy.

He then pointed out that he is cultivating different kinds of beans, ladies fingers, cucumbers, cabbages and Tangkhul Hawai in his field currently.

Informing that he has already started planting cabbage saplings with a plan for early cultivation, Khogen added that he also uses eco-friendly pesticides to protect his crops from pests.

Another farmer, who is also a college Lecturer, Ingudam Sanjoy said that the people of the village focus mainly on crops which have high demand in the market and which fetch a good income.

During the off season, cabbage, brinjals and pulses are cultivated and most of the crops are hyrids, he added.

Speaking to The Sangai Express, Additional Director of State Horticulture Department M Kirankumar explained that in today's time when global warming is becoming a pressing issue, cultivation of different kinds of crops in a filed helps not only in ensuring less complication arising due to pests and crop diseases but also helps in keeping the environment green.

This is also a very good practice as it also provides income opportunities for the farmers, he opined.

Indian Council of Agriculture Research Centre, Lamphel, scientist Dr Ningombam Arti conveyed that the agricultural practice of the people of Khoijuman has been passed down from the early days and through experience.

This is also a form of climate change adaptation, the scientist added.

Planting of different crops help in pest management and provide a way of generating income for the farmers, Arti said adding that if the concerned experts supplement the farmers in their techniques, it will become even more advanced and productive.

Nodal Officer of State Climate Change Cell as well as Directorate of Environment Deputy Director, Dr T Brajakumar said that such planting of different crops is an extremely good practice and it will also help in identifying climate resilient species.

Presence of greeneries aid in trapping carbon, ensures presence of carbon in the soil, regulates moisture, Dr Brajakumar said, adding that it is imperative for all to give recognition as well as laud such kinds of farming practices which have been passed down from the early days.

On the other hand, Manipur University Anthropology Professor W Nabakumar said that the knowledge passed down through generations among the indigenous people are time tested knowledge and at a time when global warming is becoming a serious concern, such indigenous knowledge becomes quite helpful.

Opining that the ancient traditional lifestyles and farming practices of the Meiteis create a specific bio-diversity for every household, Professor Nabakumar continued that planting of various tress and crops in and around the houses plays a huge role in conservation of the ecology.

For the people, such plants and trees planted around the houses were not recklessly cut off and specific time and periods were fixed if the need arose for cutting the plants, the Professor explained.