IMPHAL, Dec 7 – Manipur’s favourite delicacy – Yongchak (stink or tree bean) trees which have already dried up in many parts of the State – has found a new home in the highlands of Ukhrul district due to rise in temperature.
Last year, Yongchak had almost disappeared from the Imphal markets after thousands of trees, both in hills and valley, dried up due to insect attack following climate change in the recent past.
Yongchak Eromba, prepared with fermented fish, is one of the most delicious and sought after dish of Manipuris during winter. Yongchak was sold at Rs 50 per piece during the recently concluded Ningol Chakkouba festival and now at Rs 100 for three pieces.
“Even if there are reports of widespread drying up of Yongchak trees due to pest invasion and climate change, Ukhrul highlands climate seems to be comparatively safer for its cultivation”, Solei Luiram, specialist (Horticulture) of Krishi Vigyan Kendra, Ukhrul told The Assam Tribune. It must be because of climate change, he added.
However, the specialist had been facing a strange situation in dealing with pest and insect invasion in Ukhrul fields. They are trying to introduce integrated pest management and nutrient management programmes in order to control pests.
The insect is responsible for drying up of Yongchak plants in Manipur. Five years ago, the villagers could not make money out of their Yongchak trees as most of the trees failed to bear fruits. But now they can at least fetch a minimum of Rs 5,000 per Yongchak tree.
“We have been experiencing this change in the tree since the last 4/5 years. Now we have a stable income from Yongchak trees unlike in the past,” said Sochanphi Horam, cultivator and owner of five Yongchak trees in Pushing village, under Chingai sub-division.
Earlier, Sochanphi and most of the farmers in the village depended only on paddy (Rs 150 per tin) and other integrated crops. “Besides Yongchak, we have also witnessed coming up of Kiwifruit plantation in a traditionally cold place like Ukhrul district”, Dr Subhra Saikat Roy, Horticulture Scientist with Indian Council of Agricultural Research, observed. “This shows that temperature is rising in the area”, he observed.
Ukhrul, which is traditionally known for its large scale lemon cultivation in Kachai area, now has become a suitable place for growing Kiwifruits and oranges too.