The Mango of Life: Dhakuakhana's Mango Festival
At a time when the fruit markets of Assam are flooded with contaminated fruits that are ripened by using carbide, and at a time when people are afraid of taking ripe mango because of the fear of carbide, there is an encouraging news from Dhakuakhana relating to promotion and preservation of indigenous mango. There is very good news from Lakhimpur – a group of people in the district has taken upon themselves the responsibility of popularising the various varieties of mango that are indigenous to Assam.
It was ‘Aam-Mela 2019’, a day-long festival of mangoes that was held at the Dhakuakhana Normal School premises last Saturday, with growers from different parts of Lakhimpur district converging there to display as many as 56 varieties of mango.
While the initiative was primarily taken by the Indigenous Wealth Conservation Committee of Dhakuakhana, other groups that joined hands included Wild Silk Society of Northeast, Lakhimpur Krishi Vigyan Kendra, and the National Rural Livelihood Mission of the Dhakuakhana and Ghilamara blocks, with the Dhakuakhana Sub-divisional administration providing support. The 50-plus local varieties of mango that arrived for display included Senduri aam, Saguni aam, Saunia aam, Tiliki aam, Ghila aam, Tenga aam, Mati-Mitha aam, Mati aam, Bogi aam, Maldoi aam, Bahir-kathuwa aam, Amara aam, Naspati aam, Jurkota mitha aam, Jurkata gulapiya aam, Laipulia aam, Lichu aa, Mahdhowa aam, Bora am, Ghuroniya bhitar-poka aam, Bhati aam, Seujiya aam, and so on.
A section of scientists believe that Northeastern India, and the particular stretch of geography covering the Brahmaputra Valley and North-western Myanmar is the centre of origin of the common mango – Mangifera indica. It is also said that the only fossil ever found in India bearing the imprint of a leaf of Mangifera petandra, a major mango species, was in Assam. Mangifera indica is said to have first appeared in the Indo-Myanmar region between 0.5 and one million years ago, from where it spread to Southeast Asia and then to Africa and other continents. While the organisers of last weekend’s mango festival in Dhakuakhana must be congratulated, the idea of holding a mango festival was first mooted and executed by the IQA Cell of Lakhimpur Commerce College in 2017, with Wild Silk Society and the district agriculture department extending vital support. While that maiden festival was a grand success, the groups in Dhakuakhana must have definitely taken a cue from them.
What needs to be now done is to organise such mango festivals in every district, with the Assam Agricultural University, the Krishi Vigyan Kendras and the state agriculture department making it an opportunity to conduct a proper and detailed study of the mango varieties of the state.
The second step would be to popularise these mango varieties so that the mangoes find their way to the market and that the mango growers get a good price.
Care must be taken so that unscrupulous elements do not take advantage and cheat the growers as has been happening with orange cultivators of upper Assam, Karbi Anglong, Dima Hasao and Arunachal Pradesh, or the ginger growers of Assam’s hill districts. A central mango festival must be also organised in Guwahati, so that the large number of consumers concentrated in the state capital can also get a taste of the wonderful mangoes that grow in the state.
We at @ManuheManuhorbabe1 on Twitter and on Facebook think that such a strategy should be adopted by taking experts on board so that the state and the region are not compelled to send crores of rupees in importing mangoes like Alphonso, Badami, Dasheri, Keshar, Langra, Mulgoba, Neelam, and Chanusa etc from outside the region. What do you think? Tag us! And share this article.