Ginger Plantation In Karbi Anglong: Origin And Significance

February 5, 2021

The ginger plantation is a popular practice in Assam and the state produces the highest amount of organic ginger in the country, according to a 2018 report.

Tracing the roots or the origin of ginger plantation in Assam, thus becomes extremely important.

Not just Assam, but ginger plantation is also common in several other states from the northeast like-Mizoram, Sikkim, Manipur, and Arunachal Pradesh.

Northeast is considered as a suitable place for ginger farming. The agro-climatic conditions of the region, which is characterised by humid summers, abundant rainfall, and cool winters is favourable for ginger cultivation.

Ginger is cultivated as a cash crop, mainly in the jhum fields spread over the hills and plains of tribal-dominated areas of the entire region.

Ginger produced in Assam's Karbi Anglong and erstwhile NC Hills (now Dima Hasao), is known for its quality and organic aspects.

Other popular ginger belts include Nalbari, Barpeta, Sonitpur, Darrang, Golaghat, Sivasagar, Tinsukia, and Nagaon districts of Assam.

A Brief Sketch Of Kuki Politics In Karbi Anglong

The Kuki community is an important community of the state and they are also the inhabitants of Manipur, Assam, Nagaland and Tripura.

It is an indisputable fact that the Kukis in Assam have been residing long before the British invaded Assam. In an assessment to the Kukis of other regions, the Kukis in Karbi Anglong lags comparatively behind in several aspects like academics, employment, sports, economic facilities, healthcare etc.

It won't be wrong when I say that not a single person from the Kuki community has ever received any substantial benefits in The Karbi Anglong Autonomous Council (KAAC).

To say the least, no individual from the Kuki community has ever been appointed as a fourth-grade employee in any government office till date.

The reason behind this, perhaps, has been the low population of the community.

However, the Kukis of Karbi Anglong stand deficient of privileges and opportunities which are recurrently allocated to minority tribes.

The demand for a Regional Council has been claimed since the 1990s but to no avail.

Ginger Plantation Of The Kukis In Karbi Anglong

The Kukis of Assam have been practising ginger plantation since the 1950s since ginger and chilli were the major sources of income and economy booster for the region.

Hence, around 90 per cent of the people from the community are involved with ginger plantation.

The estimated Kuki population in Karbi Anglong is around 60,000. But this is not the actual numbers as the names of those individuals without a Voter ID card is not included in the list.

The Kuki-dominated areas of Karbi Anglong include Singhason, Khambamon, Bojan constituency and comprises a cluster of about 100 villages.

Out of these villages, around 80-90 villages cultivate ginger and is their primary source of income.

It may be mentioned here that neither the Assam government nor KAAC offers any beneficial assistance to the ginger farmers.

The Kukis in Karbi Anglong uses jhum cultivation to produce organic ginger and the social customary law of the community rests primarily on the village chiefs.

The chief, hence, freely allots land for the cultivation of ginger, rice, maize, millets etc that villagers deem fit to cultivate.

In 2003, Praveen Kumar (Manohar Parrikkar Institute for Defence Studies and Analysis) had remarked that ginger was one of the reasons which generated a conflict between the Karbis and the Kukis and this can be established as true.

As mentioned earlier, the Kukis were the first community to cultivate ginger in of Assam in the hills of Karbi Anglong. And as the cultivation reaped profits and trade flourished, other communities of the district began to cultivate ginger and companies and business houses began to show their interests in ginger cultivation.

Not just Karbi Anglong, but the production of organic ginger has boosted the economy of the state as well.

It is time that the Assam government bestow financial assistance to the farmers for their commitment, which has ultimately brought economic, political and social up-gradation in the region for the past decades.

It is only when such assistance and acknowledgements are conferred to the ginger cultivators that there can be extensive commercial progression and collective pride not only in the district or the state but in the country as well.

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