Chak-hao seeds under MOMA are pure: Dir

IMPHAL, 20th Oct: While conceding that yield in the first year of MOMA-initiated aromatic black rice cultivation project was not fully satisfactory on account of farmers’ naivety and communication gap with the officials concerned, agriculture director Ph Rajendra has asserted that there is no valid reason to fear that the black rice project would fail.

Speaking to newspersons on the side-lines of inspecting paddy seedling plantation sites on Saturday, Rajendra informed that government-sponsored aromatic black rice cultivation programme was launched for the first time in Manipur in 2016-17 under the auspices of Manipur Organic Mission Agency (MOMA), a joint venture of departments of Agriculture and Horticulture.

Explaining that MOMA is the implementing agency of Mission Organic Chain Development for North East Region in the state, the director recounted that in the first year of the project 500 paris each of agricultural (paddy) fields were identified in Imphal East, Imphal West, Bishnupur and Thoubal districts for plantation of aromatic black rice.

Out of 2000 farmers selected to implement the project, department officials came across some of the farmers were unaware about the importance of rouging impure plants when inspections were conducted prior to the harvest season, he said, adding that identifying impure plant breeds is essential to ensure that the yield is free from adulteration.

Mooting that first crop containing impure black rice varieties could have been avoided had the farmers followed the rouging procedure, director Rajendra also expressed that the mixed yield could have been due to communication gap between the department experts and the cultivators.

Regardless of yield of the debut year found to be not up to the mark, the second year had no issue as farmers adhered to the mandatory weeding of impure plants, he said, adding that yield of the MOMA-sponsored black rice project will be certified as cent per-cent organic only after examination of the harvest in the third year. Rajendra also pointed out that unless black rice farming in Manipur is carried out under the MOMA project no farmer has the right to claim the crop as organic product.

He also urged public consumers as well as bulk purchasers to minutely examine the product and informed that the agriculture department has appointed four service providers to oversee all aspects of black rice plantation sponsored by MOMA.

Further stating that the MOMA project is aimed at promoting and augmenting yield of two specific varieties of black rice - Chak-hao Poireiton and Chak-hao Amubi, he expressed satisfaction that farmers of Itham, Moirang Purel, Yairipok and Yambem areas Imphal East district have been working in close coordination with the department experts.

Director Rajendra also informed that till date 300 metric tonne of black rice produced under the MOMA project has been exported along with stating that relevant processes are underway to get GI registration for black rice grown in Manipur.

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