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For 80-year-old Singwan Ch Marak, age is just a number and that needs no heeding as, for the past eight years, Marak has pursued one dream - to grow organic vegetables in his small plot of land that can feed his family and at the same time, serve as a source of income.
His routine for the past eight years has been simple.
After breakfast, he would rush to his field and would tend to his plants with only his tools and an iron will. Even though all his hard work has not made him a rich man, the fact that he continues the routine without fail is astounding.
His treasure trove lies in the village of Chandigre, about 30 kilometres from the town of Tura, en route to Williamnagar through the Asanang Road.
His farm measures a little over one bigha (a traditional unit of measurement of the area of land varying from place to place) within which he has sown potatoes, onions, broccoli, various saags, beans and others.
Marak’s family comprises his wife, seven children and one grandchild, most of whom work towards running the family’s expenses.
While job card work provided by the Rongram C&RD Block has been of help, it has not been enough to support the family.
His family has often had to undertake other odd jobs to make ends meet, and the octogenarian’s farm provides some help in coping with the daily expenses.
“The returns for the efforts put in by him don’t really count for much, but it has been his obsession to produce organic produce of as many varieties of foods he can for the family. He sells some to nearby traders and even to some from Assam, but we always get fresh and healthy food through his efforts,” said Singwan’s daughter.
“It has amazed us at how dedicated he is towards his farm even at his age. He was doing odd jobs earlier, but this has been his life for the past eight years and it is inspiring to know that even at this age he continues to do physical labour in his farm,” said activist Jaynie N Sangma, who visited the farmer recently along with members of Impulse Social Enterprises, Balipara Foundation, Hills Farmers’ Union and the World View Impact Foundation – an international NGO.
The effort put in by Singwan had amazed the visitors who, in turn, promised to help him.
According to the farmer, he buys seedlings from nearby Rongram before planting them at his farm.
However, excessive costs have been burning a hole in his pocket. While there have been some well-wishers who contributed to his farm, the farmer rued the lack of government support in providing him with the much-required help.
He is however extremely proud of the fact that many people have recognised his hard work as students from the North-Eastern Hill University‘s (NEHU) Rural Development also visited his farm on a study tour.
He expressed hope that one day, others will join him in bringing about an agricultural revolution – one that would open people’s eyes to the wonders of their efforts. (Edited by Andre Kongri)