Meghalaya Governor Shri. Ganga Prasad launches Mission Lakadong in the State

Meghalaya Governor Shri Ganga Prasad on Tuesday 24th April 2018 launched a five year Mission Lakadong 2018-23 to promote the cultivation of one of the State’s most well known spices and improve the livelihood of turmeric farmers. The mission is an initiative undertaken by the Directorate of horticulture, Department of agriculture, Community and Rural Development Department, Forest department, North Eastern Hill University and Meghalaya Institute of Entrepreneurship.

Over 450 turmeric farmers from the Laskein and Thadlaskein Blocks of Jaintia Hills attended the programme held at the State Convention Centre on Tuesday.

“Lakadong turmeric is a rare type of turmeric and has the potential to change the lives of countless farmers if its uniqueness is properly exploited as there is an established demand for the variety and buyers who are willing to pay a premium for its quality”, Shri. Prasad said.

He said this chemical free turmeric is much sought after for use in the cosmetic, pharmaceutical and food industry.

He said the government had proposed an investment of Rs 75 crore for the promotion of Lakadong turmeric. He urged the farmers to avoid marketing of raw rhizomes and instead market value-added products like turmeric powder and turmeric oil that will fetch them a better price.

However, the Governor said, despite such good demand, farmers have not, till date, been able to realise the full economic potential of this crop because most of them are small and marginal, coupled with low volumes and non availability of planting material. “The negative influence of the middle men is another major factor. I understand that there are atleast 1000 farmers engaged in the cultivation of Lakadong Turmeric in Laskein and Thadlaskein Blocks, and that the area is spread over 2577 hectares. I have also ascertained that the total production is just about 10,000 M.T. per year. This kind of volume is not sufficient to create a global footprint for our Lakadong turmeric. So, there is a need to undertake a mission mode intervention to increase the production of Lakadong Turmeric to atleast 50,000 M.T. per year and more than double the area”, he added.

Commissioner and Secretary, Agriculture Department, Shri. P. Sampath Kumar, IAS, said the state produces about 16,000 metric tonnes of Lakadong turmeric per annum and that the goal of the mission is to increase production with the aim of building the economy around Lakadong.

He said though Meghalaya produces the finest turmeric, the state does not find a place in the ‘list’ of important turmeric growing states like Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, Odisha, Assam and Bengal.

Speaking about the curcumin content of turmeric which has ample health benefits, Kumar said the Lakadong variety of Meghalaya has the highest curcumin content of 6 – 7.5 per cent according to reports of the Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR) The Mission will adopt an end to end holistic approach to organic Lakadong cultivation and will put in place interventions to increase the area under the spice from its current status of 6367 acres (2577 hectares) to 15,000 acres (6070 hectares) over the next five years while improving the productivity from 6 MT per hectare to 8 MT per hectare, introduction of the latest technologies of plant propagation to increase and improve the availability of planting material, post harvest technology induction including solar dehydrators, product aggregation, the creation of a dedicated Hub and Center for Excellence for Lakadong, mobilization of farmers into Farmer Interest Groups, training, capacity building, creation of an ecosystem for promotion of turmeric based agri-businesses and a dedicated supply chain linked to markets for turmeric.

The main objective of the Mission is to enhance the livelihood and income opportunities of Lakadong turmeric farmers by leveraging on the uniqueness of Lakadong to tap the current and emerging opportunities in the spice sector and a target of 50,000 MTs of Lakadong is set for a period of five years.

A Lakadong Turmeric brand needs to be created to take its rightful place as the premium product of Meghalaya, both online and offline that is synonymous with quality and purity which necessitates the registration of the Geographical Indication for Meghalaya’s Lakadong.