In Tamenlong District, Manipur, orange trees are dying and no one seems to be able to explain why.
The orange harvest takes place annually in December and January. During these two months, the orange farmers earn their entire annual income – just enough to sustain them through until the next harvest. Since 2000, the harvest has been decreasing steadily. The result – an incredibly precarious situation for the farmers who see their livelihoods decline year on year. Mr Katadim, an orange farmer, highlights this reality, ‘farmers like me are in shock and are helpless, because for us these oranges are our only source of income to sustain our families.’
Desperate to counter the situation, orange farmers have started to grow banana plants. Whilst this may go some way to compensate the farmers financial loss, it does nothing to explain why the orange trees are dying in the first place.
This mystery continues to puzzle agricultural experts and civilians alike. Climate change has been mentioned as a possible explanation but this is nothing more than conjecture; no one knows for sure. After a visit from the India Foundation of Agriculture Research, various interventions were suggested, namely the use of sprinklers and fertilizers, but alas, to no effect.
Tamenlong is the orange basket of Manipur and the fruits have always been the principal source of income for the district.For all these years, the Manipuris have been eating their favorite fruit in its homegrown variety and if this mystery disease continues to spread, very soon, they will have to import the fruit and Tamenlong will have to look elsewhere for a livelihood.
About The CC: In her home state of Manipur, Achungmei Kamei is caught between the state who insists she’s Indian and the separatists who call for a separate Naga country. When she moved to Bangalore for further studies, her classmates kept mistaking her for Chinese or Korean or Nepali but definitely not an Indian. She completed her degree in Mass Communications and returned to her state to work for the national radio station. Back home, she once again saw divisions- blockades, strikes, violence etc that were forcing her to choose sides. It is this precarious situation and the stories of the innocent people caught in between that she wants to report to the world.