Young farmers prove Ukhrul as ideal place to grow apples
Source: Chronicle News Service / R Lester Makang

Ukhrul, July 01 2021: Apple talk or apple mania, whichever name you give it but the delicious fruit is definitely gripping the entire Ukhrul district this summer.

In fact, it is a latest craze among the district's farming community as well as the public.

And there's ample reason for this.

For the first time in its history, the district is witnessing an unprecedented, high yield of its own home-grown shiny, crunchy apples this season.

This is, indeed, no mean feat for Ukhrul where many local farmers had given up on apple cultivation as an impossible dream until a few years ago.

Now, the apple buzz is not just creating a new chapter in the district's farming history but is also giving a fresh perspective on its farming landscape.

Behind this very epochal emprise are the success stories of a few enterprising, first-time apple growers from the district who have stepped onto the path of success with apple cultivation - a new-found passion in business.

These successful first timers are now proud owners of high-yielding apple plants in their respective orchards which they set up under a North Eastern Council's pilot project back in 2019 .

Among those on the success bandwagon along with Augustina Shimray in apple cultivation, are a handful of youngsters who are now proud owners of apple orchards in different villages such as Hungpung, Litan, Shokvao and Koso.

35-year-old Ringphami Thingshung, a resident of Dungrei locality in Hungpung village, said he was an aircraft maintenance engineer but switched to farming back in 2012 .

"I quit my job as aircraft maintenance technician at Dimapur Airport and returned home to become a farmer.

And my apple business came after I had been into farming for about five years.

I have also been growing bamboo and kiwi in my farm before I took up apple farming," he told The People's Chronicle.

Thingshung, who is one of the two who received Rs 1 lakh award for apple cultivation from CM Biren recently, said that he planted 90 apple saplings in his backyard orchard as trial under the pilot project sponsored by NER-CORMP Ukhrul under NEC in 2019 .

"Eighty five trees are surviving and are all bearing fruits.

I have gathered around 200 kg of the fruit this season but since it was my first harvest I decided not to sell off even a single piece but offered them as freebies to friends and relatives," Thingshung said.

He said that his fruit is a low-chilling variety of four types, of which Ana and Golden Dorsett are bearing fruits after two years and two others namely, Kala and Red Fuji will bear fruits in the third year of plantation.

Another first time grower who has tasted the success of her apple orchard is Ngalayo Makan, a young woman from Koso village.

Talking to TPC, she said: "I'm just starting out and currently I have only 20 plants and 12 of them are bearing fruits this year" .

She said that more than 10 kg of apples have been harvested and more are to be gathered in the coming days.

Meanwhile, a joint venture taken up by another two young men Sandosh Horam and Somayo Kashung at two different locations in Litan and Shokvao villages is apparently making the most out of their first harvest this season.

According to Sandosh Horam, the two apple farms are jointly owned by him and Somayo Kashung.

"One of our orchards at Shokvao has 1300 plants and out of them, around 600 trees bore fruits this year, while the other at Litan has 180 trees," he said.

He said that harvest time was in June and that despite the lockdown, they could sell out the fruits to many buyers who came right at their orchards.

"From our farm at Shokvao, around 500 kg of apples were harvested which fetched us some Rs 40,000 and we got around Rs 30,000 from the other farm at Litan which had a yield of around 250-300 kg," he said.

Horam said that some 20 trainees from the district received training on apple plantation in Himachal Pradesh in 2019, which was given by CSIR through NERCORMP Ukhrul under the sponsorship of NEC.

"I believe that there are some more farmers who are successfully taking up apple cultivation in our district," Horam exuded.

Meanwhile, Thingshung and Augustina have expressed their gratitude to CM Biren for his support and assistance extended to them.

"It was an honour meeting him.

I'm inspired and encouraged to learn of his sincere interest in promoting young people in the field of agriculture and horticulture," Augustina said.

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