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On path to self-reliance, Rangapara youths become role models for unemployed
Shambhu Boro

Pranay Basumatary showing the vermi-compost production process. – Photos: Tezpur Correspondent
 TEZPUR, Oct 16 - By taking up organic tea cultivation against all odds, two educated and hardworking youths – Pranay Basumatary and Deepak Medhi – of Rangapara in Sonitpur district have become role models for many jobless youths of the area.

 They have taken up organic tea cultivation at Naharani grant area, about 4 km from Rangapara town. Their efforts to become self-reliant have drawn praise from the people of the area which was once known as a hotbed of insurgency.

Pranay Basumatary initially started tea cultivation on a 10-bigha plot of land. But after continuous struggle for over two decades, he now owns 50 bighas of tea plantation and three fisheries, thereby setting an example for others like him to become self-employed instead of hankering for government jobs.

Pranay – an Arts graduate from Rangapara College – had a lot of bitter experiences before he could establish himself as a promising entrepreneur.

Before taking up tea cultivation, Pranay used to earn a livelihood by doing all sorts of odd jobs.

“Between 1996 and 2000, I got myself enlisted as a class one contractor in PWD (Roads), but soon realised that it was not the kind of job I wanted to do. So, I finally decided to take up organic tea cultivation,” he said.

He attended a number of training programmes to gain knowledge on producing quality tea. Honoured with many awards, the young tea cultivator has a conventional tea garden comprising 40 bighas of land, including 10 bighas of organic tea plantation.

Presently, he produces green tea, white tea and black tea (both CTC and Orthodox) and is supplying those to different markets, including Guwahati.

“I got an opportunity to supply my products to Delhi, but due to the lockdown it didn’t materialise,” he said.

He said that besides tea, he also produces black pepper and cinnamon. He is also into pisciculture. He is not only sustaining his family but also providing employment to over 100 people in his farm.

Similarly, Deepak Medhi, another progressive tea cultivator of the area, started organic tea cultivation in seven bighas of land in 2013, and today he is producing a sizable amount of organic tea every year earning Rs 3-4 lakh annually.

“For its health benefits, organic tea is high on demand in the international market. Sometimes we fail to fulfil the demand, but I along with Pranay and few others are promoting organic tea in the area. We are optimistic that in the days to come we would jointly be able to meet the demand,” Deepak said.

He feels proud that Rangapara, which was once a hotbed of militancy, has now become a hotspot of green revolution due to the untiring efforts of small tea growers. Sprawling tea gardens from Rangapara Naharani-Grant till Bhalukpung on the foothills along the Assam-Arunachal Pradesh border presents a breathtaking sight.

Alongside tea cultivation, they are also promoting dairy farming. According to Pranay and Deepak, they feel happy that they have been able to motivate others to take the path of self-reliance.

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