Tribal Garo farmers of Adokgre in the North Garo Hills of Meghalaya are one of the largest producers of organic bananas in South Asia. More than 15,000 tribal farmers are directly or indirectly engaged in organic banana cultivation.
Usually, the farmers sell their produces at Daranggiri market in Assam’s Goalpara, the largest banana selling hub in Asia. Unfortunately, the tribal banana farmers are always exploited by middlemen.
To ensure that the Garo banana farmers are not exploited anymore by middlemen, Meghalaya chief minister Conrad K. Sangma (then as MP), in August 2017, had taken a farmers delegation to meet Union minister of state for food processing Harsimrat Kaur Badal.
Along with the farmers’ delegation was led by Rupert Momin, Conrad K. Sangma had appraised Badal about the mass production of organic banana on Adokgre and the nearby areas.
The delegation had also appraised the union minister on the need for setting up of cold storage facilities, and a processing unit to ensure regular of bananas. The production is seasonal, and the peak season of production is from August to October.
Though there has been no immediate step by New Delhi so far to set up cold storage facilities or the processing unit, the hope of the organic banana farmers of Garo hills multiplied on Friday.
Badal, who has fair idea about the woes of the Garo farmers, has taken over as the cabinet minister for Food Processing in Modi 2.0 government. And, she will be assisted by Rameswar Teli, the BJP MP from Dibrugarh.