Moreh Mairen and Make in Manipur

Free Thinker *

Some few years back I heard a story of a farmer who came to Naga Mapal vegetable bazar to sell his mairens (pumpkins). Actually he came with hundreds of mairen in a mini-truck to earn some bigger profit from this city bazar.

It was an early morning bazar where common people and veg-vendors came out and purchased the products (vegetables) brought from the villages and farms. The gentleman who brought the mairens could not find any buyer for quite some time. He was bit worried because he had to pay the trucker.

Suddenly one sadhu-baba, who just woke up from the influence of ganja which he took heavily the previous night came to the mairen-wala and asked for money for his morning tea. The maire-wala said, "baba I haven't sold a single mairen, how can I help you?". Then the baba replied, "If I help you selling your mairens will you help me".

Mairen-wala readily agreed to the proposal. The Sadhu-baba started yelling 'Moreh Mairen, Moreh Mairen cheap and tasty, buy now, stock is almost finished'. He shouted like that umpteen times and drew a crowd around him and surprisingly people had started buying the mairens.

The news had spread that one baba is selling tasty Moreh Mairen at a reasonable price. In no time hundreds of mairen were sold. The mairen-wala was pretty impressed by the idea and action of the sadhu-baba. He offered a good amount of money to the baba. But the baba refused to take all except for his morning tea.

What I am trying to say is that we lack marketing skill. Even if our products are good, without proper marketing our goods can't be sold. The Sadhu-baba has the wit and skill of marketing. We don't need to learn marketing from IIMs. We can still learn from the streets and street-smarts.

History of Nagamapal veg bazar

Naga Mapal stands for the bank of Naga river. Naga river flows in the western part of Imphal city and it flows into the Nambul river. The President of All Manipur Mondrung Association (AMMA) Shri Samananda ex. Addl. DGP says, 'the Nagas were once settled along the banks of Naga river and they were running the bazar since time immemorial, the Nagas left the area for the hills perhaps at the time of Burmese occupation of Manipur'.

I have serious doubts about the historical connection between Naga people, Naga river bank, and Naga Mapal Veg Bazar. But there might be a link as the nomenclature 'Naga' is invariably cited. Historians may kindly verify and clarify.

The issue of marketing

We come to know that Ngari and Hawaizar (dried) are in great demand not only within the State but also in other parts of northeast. Smart business men can exploit this potential market. We have seen some packaging and promoting of these products .It is really encouraging but not enough. Manufacturing and Expiry dates must be in black and white on the packets and at the same time the quality must be maintained consistently.

Our products can easily be marketed in Bhutan, Nepal, Myanmar and Bangladesh. Because the people of these countries have similar food habits and at the same time they rely on the products made in any country. I am told that our Ngari is very well received in Bangladesh. Again our Hawaizar is very must in demand in Bhutan and Arrunachal Pradesh.

What we need today is good packaging and aggressive marketing. It is hearting news that demand for Ngari and Hawaizar has also come from UK and Canada, may be from the diaspora.

Roaring grass business

Someone is doing good business with grass, I mean lemon grass.

The gentleman is minting money from grass. His products are lemon-grass tea, perfume and room-freshener and so on. He may soon bring out lemon-grass soaps and dhoops. One more encouraging thing is that many people are getting direct and indirect employment through his business. Similarly we can start doing business with other grasses/weeds found abundantly in Manipur.

For the cause of our Ganja

Marijuana (ganja) is extensively consumed in the country; it is intoxicating and I am told that it is smooth and wonderful. But some kind of illegality is attached to it by the Narcotic Drugs & Psychotropic Substances (NDPS) Act 1985. It is high time to change the law. The present BJP led government must take it seriously. Bhang and ganja are the favorites of Mahadev (Shiva) the lord of the masses and down trodden people.

Despite various restrictions and legal hurdles bhang and ganja flourish in this holy land. Both are still extremely popular among the people particularly among the sadhus, workers, peasants and intellectuals. It is certainly because of the blessings of Lord Shiva. Banaras is still the bhang/ganja capital of the country, again because of Lord Viswanath (Shiva).

Ganja from Manipur is one of the best. The experts say that the ganja from Eril Mapan (river bank) is the most soothing for smoking. Men in khadi and khaki who deal with the stuff must know better; it is reliably learnt that the demand of Manipur ganja is still very high in eastern India.

People say Ganja is an intoxicant less dangerous than its counterparts. It is also medically proven that marijuana is less harmful than alcohol. Some quakes say that tobacco chewing is more harmful than ganja smoking. All sadhus agree with this finding and I also believe in them. Some old Sainik School students still believe that if ganja were popularized properly in time the menace of drug addiction in the State could have been avoided successfully.

In some advanced countries like Netherlands, Canada, the USA the commercial cultivation and use of marijuana is permitted. For instance the States of Washington and Colorado in the USA allow selling, purchase and consumption of ganja for recreation.

Ultimate needs

If we are serious about marketing our products (Make in Manipur) and making money we have to be very good in processing, packaging, promoting and pricing. And of course legalizing certain things and activities like allowing commercial exploitation of our ganja and 'Yu'.

* Free Thinker wrote this article for The Sangai Express
This article was posted on March 14, 2016.

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