Meghalaya farmer who started with 200 saplings now supplies over 4 lakh pineapples

The initial years were extremely tough for us, as we did not have enough for ourselves. Upon receiving the initial 200 saplings, I was determined to make a success of it, Laimos R Marak said.
Meghalaya farmer who started with 200 saplings now supplies over 4 lakh pineapples

TURA:

If there is one thing that we have known Garo Hills for, it is its organic produce. Whether it's cashew nuts, ginger, oranges, betel nut or the ever-popular pineapple.

The region has produced some of the best varieties of fruit and cash crops.

While there have been many success stories, the struggle of one family and their perseverance in transforming lives is an inspiration and is something that needs to be told.

Meet 55-year-old Laimos R Marak, a woman, who set up her farm in 1985 with just 200 pineapple saplings and is now the proud owner of a farm that measures over 60 bighas. She now grows over 4 lakh pineapples and supplies them to various parts of West Khasi Hills, East Garo Hills and parts of Assam.

Marak hails from Miktongjeng village under the Dambo—Rongjeng C&RD Block in East Garo Hills.

“The initial years were extremely tough for us, as we did not have enough for ourselves. Upon receiving the initial 200 saplings, I was determined to make a success of it. While all the saplings did not live, we had enough to start the farm,” said the farmer.

The start was enough for her to clear more land around her farm to make way for growing more of the fruit.

“We got hands-on training and the entire family was involved, which helped us all get some expertise in a pineapple plantation,” she added.

Their small initial success gave her confidence, and she continued increasing the size of her farm to what it is now. In between, she began planting other trees such as rubber, betel nut and others.

The family became so adept at pineapple cultivation that they grew saplings on their own. While they used most of it in their farm itself, they also sold some to the various markets around their village.

“We are completely organic in our farm and only use manure as fertilizers. Weeding, clearing and planting are done with the help of our local villagers and my family,” she added.

She explained that pineapples are harvested twice a year. While the normal season falls between June—August, the second one falls between November—January.

“We supply at least 150-200 pickups of pineapples during June—August and about 100-150 during winter,” Marak said.

Each vehicle carries about 1,500 pineapples, which place her production at over 4 lakh pineapples per year.

The success of her farm had a very upbeat consequence of over 15 families in her village as well. It has led to the villagers being employed on her farm most of the year. Many people work on the farm. Others carry the pineapples from her farm to the vehicles and are paid Rs 50 per trip. We pay the helpers depending on how many trips they make. Food, of course, is in the house.

“The road to our house and the farm is still not done, which makes carrying these goods difficult. If it was not for the help we receive from the people of our village, the success would have been hard to get. Their hard work deserves praise,” Marak said.

Inadvertently, the farm has become an integrated one with rubber, and betel nuts adding to the farm. She even has a rubber production set up, and though not as lucrative as pineapples, it still provides something for the family.

The family, even while continuing their farming activities, has still maintained a community forest on their land.

It is encouraging to see that Marak achieved all this with little help from government agencies.

(Edited by Laxmi Chyrmang)

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