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Sirarakhong Chilli festival begins

 Source: Imphal Free Press.

 

Sirarakhong Chilli festival begins

Sirarakhong Chilli festival begins

IMPHAL | August 29 : Horticulture and Soil conservation minister, Th. Shyamkumar Singh, today inaugurated the 9th edition of the three-day long “Hathei Phanit” (Chilli Festival) at Sirarakhong village, Ukhrul district. The festival is organised by the Sirarakhong Hathei Promotion Committee & Sirarakhong Villagers, sponsored by NEC through EBADA Manipur, Horticulture and Soil Conservation and Manipur Organic Mission Agency (MOMA), with the objective to promote the unique chilli locally known as ‘Sirarakhong chilli’ found only in Sirarakhong village of Ukhrul. This year’s theme of the festival under is ‘celebrating the god’s gift-Hathei’. Unlike previous year the festival this year apparently is re-assuring for the visitors as the production of chilli reportedly increased substantially. Many visitors from different parts of the state flocked Sirarakhong village and made a frantic purchase of the unique chilli, on the first day of the festival. Altogether 15 stalls were opened at the venue wherein locals displayed their chilli for sales alongside other organic vegetables locally grown at the village. V. Mary, a farmer who was displaying dried and fresh chillies along with packed chilli pickles and powder said, with Lord’s blessings this season I produce 400 kg of dry chilli. I also plant seasonal vegetables like beans, potato and king chilli and I hoped to earn a substantial amount this year if this pace continues, she added. Minister Shyamkumar, while speaking during the inauguration event said that the State Government takes the festival seriously as it is aware of the many difficulties faced by the farmers/villagers and the uniqueness of the place. He promised that after discussing with the farmers and the villagers of their grievances, special steps will be taken up by the department to increase the production of the chillies. Stating that villagers and officials should come forward and extend help to the department officials, he said the concerned officers at the districts must visit the places and give an extensive report regarding the possible steps and programs which can be taken up in the concerned areas. The Minister also announced Rs 13.50 lakhs for the construction of rural market shed under the MIDH scheme of the department and allocation of a 4x4 vehicle for the transportation of local produces till the capital city after September this year. Birachandra Singh, Joint Director, pointed out that seven varieties of chillies are found in the State and if Hathei is added than the number increases to a total of eight varieties. Underscoring the uniqueness of the chilli which has vibrant colour and taste, he appealed to the organising committee to continue the festival and spread the taste across the globe. M. Kirankumar Singh, District Officer Ukhrul, Horticulture and Soil Conservation Department said that the production is more this year compared to last year which was affected by the incessant rain. Informing that the Hathei chillies are grown at around 300 hectares and King Chillies are grown at around 100 hectares of land, he said the actual data on production of chillies is yet to be ascertained. He said the special survey is needed to record regarding the production of chillies, which he hoped will be done by the next year. He further said the areas for the cultivation of the chillies need to be expanded as the demand is more than the actual supply. He said by the next year, the focus will be on area expansion and making good saplings of the Hathei. H. Balkrisna Singh, Director, Directorate of Information and Public Relations, advised the villagers to work hard to increase the production for the prosperity of the village and for global recognition. He further wished the organisers of the festival a grand success. Presentation of by locals songs, dance performances and tree plantation program marked the inaugural day. K. Dickson, Chairman, ADC Ukhrul, V. Wungkhan Zimik, Headman, Sirarakhong village, Weapon Zimik, President, Tangkhul Naga Long, village headmen of different villages, villagers of Sirarakhong among others attended the festival.