After a decade, Ukhrul man sees fruits of his growing hobby
Source: Chronicle News Service / R Lester Makang

Ukhrul, July 08 2022: Everyone has hobbies that they enjoy and pursue in their leisure time for relaxation.

But the leisure interests may actually turn into the realisation of a lifetime dream, depending on how one uses their skills and passions.

There are myriad instances of hobbies evolving into booming businesses or successful enterprises/careers beginning as a pastime.

The story of Chahongnao Wisdom, a native of Tashar Chanhong village in Ukhrul district, is one of them.

His tenacity in pursuing a passion has culminated in an accomplishment that promises hope for a lifetime.

For over 10 years, Wisdom who describes himself as a nature lover, has spent his leisure time - planting and tending as many as 4500 small trees.

Unlike other hobbies, he knew his leisure pursuit would cost him a lot of money.

"So, in 2008, I sold off my plot of land in Ukhrul town for Rs 9 lakh and decided to invest the entire proceeds on my passion - growing trees", said the 59-year-old man.

With the money, he bought a 4.5 acre of land at Farankhan area located close to his homestead in his native village in 2008 and planted 2500 pine tree saplings there.

Some three years later, he purchased another 11.47-acre tract of farmland in Sakhong area, about 1 km west of his village's settlement.

He planted over 2000 seedlings of Hollock (Tolhao in Manipuri) there in 2012, he said, claiming that it is an evergreen timber tree which is suitable in the district's climatic conditions.

Wisdom said that the lands were only fallow and overgrown with shrubs and bushes at the time when he acquired them.

Of the 5000-odd small trees of pine and Hollock he planted more than 10 years ago, around 4200 trees now flourish and soar as tall as any big trees on his two lands, providing shade and a safe habitat for birds and insects.

Perhaps, anyone can foresee the bleak future of forest and the environment in the face of endless human exploitation of nature.

But then, who could have possibly envisioned a hobby turning into a large-scale plantation that would literally create a future forest? And that too, by investing a huge amount of money! But, what motivated Wisdom to take up this arduous task as a form of leisure pursuit was simple.

"I knew that growing trees was a good thing that everyone should do in their lives.

We are aware of the numerous benefits that trees provide to humans.

Since I love growing trees, I decided to use my lands to plant trees for the benefit of our people and the environment", he told The People's Chronicle.

Moreover, when the trees have grown to full maturity, he may use them for timber needs, he added.

Wisdom said that when he initially decided to plant Hollock in 2012, saplings of the specific variety were limited in Manipur.

"I had to get 500 seedlings from Dimapur at a cost of Rs 5 each sapling", he recalled.

Later in 2018, it became available at the Forest Nursery in Muirei (formerly Joyland) village (Manipur) .

"That was when I approached the Forest Department and I was provided 2000 seedlings free of cost", he explained.

He stated that he has so far invested around Rs 6 lakh on growing the trees, which included the cost of lands, seedlings, and labour.

According to Wisdom, his Hollock plantation in the Sakhong area is secure from forest fires since it is situated next to a creek - a tributary of Thoubal River.

"The terrain is also of the rocky type, which is ideal for the growth of Hollock trees", he said.

"Unlike other timber woods, the species has a soft texture, is simple to work with, and is quite durable.

It's ideal for use in furniture and other construction purposes", he added.

There is another advantage of the Hollock tree.

"After harvesting, the tree does not die; new shoots sprout up from the stump.

That's why cultivating this tree is desirable", he explained.

"After 20 years of age, both Pine and Hollock trees will be ready for harvest.

I'll start harvesting them in the next 10 years", he anticipated.

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