Mizoram to seek Israel's assistance in horticulture
Aizawl, Aug 25: After reaping a bountiful crop of grapes and passion fruit, Mizoram is all set to expand its horticultural horizons with help from Israel experts.
Horticulture director Samuel Rosanglura today told UNI that the government has signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the Tel Aviv-based Israel Corporation of Agriculture Application for setting up 'state-of-the-art' orange nurseries in the western part of the state.
He said the agreement was part of a strategy to revive the state's orange plantations.
Israel will supply hybrid seeds and share technological strategy to help Mizo orange farmers reap the citrus fruit within two years of planting saplings whereas the indigenous varieties of orange trees takes at least four years to mature and bear fruit.
Blessed with a temperate climate suitable for orange orchards, Mizoram produces about 1,000 tonnes of the succulent winter fruit every year. Oranges grown in Mizoram are popular across the neighbouring south Asom districts and even in Myanmar and Bangladesh.
The output of oranges has, however, been on the decline over the past few years as the trees failed to bloom or respond to chemicals prescribed even by the expert horticulturists.
Mr Samuel described the declining productivity of orchards in west Mizoram as a temporary phenomenon. He said the horticulture department has requistioned experts from Israel to regenerate the farming practices.
The director stated that the decline in output was a disease common to orange orchards locally known as 'Tam', which has wreaked havoc in the orange farms of the state over the past couple of years.
The focus on orange farming is part of the state government's scheme to replace wasteful 'Jhum' (slash/burn method) farming -- a practice dating back to ancient cultivation.
The officials from the horticulture department were convinced that horticulture could 'turn around' Mizorm's economic scenario in the fruits sector. Apart from oranges and passion fruit, farmers are being encouraged to grow papaya and different varieties of grapes.
''With modern technology from Israel, we hope to cross the hurdles in the horticulture sector for commercial produce of a variety of these tropical fruits'', Mr Samuel added.