cheers-- assam tea fetches best price in indian auction

Assam CTC fetches record price

Guwahati, Dec. 28: The price was soaring — Rs 253, Rs 255, Rs 300 and finally Rs 301. At 9.44 am, when a line of Mahaluxmi CTC tea was sold at Rs 301 at Guwahati Tea Auction Centre, history was created for Assam CTC in an auction centre in the country.
“It is a myth spread by vested interests that good prices are not fetched at Guwahati Tea Auction Centre. Today’s price proves that good prices are fetched here also,” Jayanta Kakati, the secretary of Guwahati Tea Auction Centre, told The Telegraph.
The tea was sold at sale number 52 through the electronic auction mode and the grade was BP (Broken Pekoe).
Mahaluxmi garden, which produces about 9.5 lakh kg of black tea annually in a 3.5-hectare area, is owned by Mohijuli Tea Company, which has another garden at Tezalpatty. Both the gardens are located at Biswanath Chariali in Sonitpur district of Assam.
Kalyan Sundaram, the secretary of Calcutta Tea Traders Association, confirmed that Rs 301 per kg was the best price ever fetched by Assam tea at any auction centre in the country. “The best in Calcutta was Rs 280 last year and this year and the tea was produced by Halmari tea garden. This is simply fantastic,” he said. “It’s not that teas sold at the Calcutta Tea Auction Centre (CTAC) are better. The only advantage that Calcutta has is a big local market,” he added.
The best price fetched by Mahaluxmi was Rs 226 last year. Navin Bhatt of Raj Tea and Company, which bought the tea, said, “Tea has shown its merits. It is like diamond,” he said, adding that his company had bought the tea for a buyer from west India.
“Mahaluxmi has been producing quality teas and has got the price,” Navin, who has been in the tea business for more than two decades, said.
Diganta Kumar Borthakur, sales and marketing head of Mohijuli Tea Company, said they have been selling all their teas through the Guwahati Tea Auction Centre. “We do not sell teas privately. It is sold through auction,” he said.
Mahaluxmi tea is sold by Paramount Tea Marketing (Pvt) Ltd. The marketing company’s director, M.C. Karumbaiah, said buyers would go wherever they found quality tea. “People do not mind paying for quality tea. The need of the hour is to produce quality tea,” he added.
“These are exceptional teas. At this time of the year and in this sale, there weren’t many good teas,” an official of Paramount said.
Selling of tea through the electronic mode has been successful and GTAC has sold 270 million kg of tea through electronic auction since its inception in 2009. “Technical improvements are being made to make the system more robust,” a GTAC official said.
On December 23, another milestone was crossed when the cumulative sale of teas sold through electronic auction centres in the country crossed the 1-billion-kg mark.
“The GTAC has embraced e-auctions in a big way and has become one of the first centres to sell all its tea through e-auctions. The stak-eholders in Assam have been instrumental in demanding and ensuring major value-added features in the e-auction program,” V. Rajaraman, the vice-president of NSE.IT Ltd, told The Telegraph. The e-auction platform has been designed, developed and supported by NSE.IT Ltd.
“With the success of e-auction system, because of its excellent price discovery and transparent process, the day is not very far when all the teas produced will be sold through e-auctions. Countries like Sri Lanka and Kenya, which are the largest exporters of tea in the world, have also shown keen interest to usher in e-auction after being convinced of the overall benefits accrued to stakeholders,” Rajaraman said.


Namdapha in tri-nation landscape

Namdapha in trans-border plan

 India, China and Myanmar will conduct a feasibility assessment next year to find out if three national parks straddling three countries, including Namdapha in Arunachal Pradesh, can be connected through a trans-boundary management system.
Representatives from the three countries met at Nay Pyi Tawin in Myanmar for a three-day conclave from December 21 to develop a strategic programme for climate change adaptation initiative and management of the biologically rich Himalayan ecosystem shared by the countries.
“Feasibility assessment for the Brahmaputra-Salween landscape, including Namdapha, will take place next year,” Nakul Chettri, team leader, biodiversity conservation and management at Kathmandu-based International Centre for Integrated Mountain Development, said.
Chettri said in 2013, India would host a meeting to take the “trans-boundary” concept forward.
The Brahmaputra-Salween landscape comprises several remote but key protected areas in the eastern Himalayas, including Gaoligongshan National Nature Reserve in China, Namdapha National Park in India (also a tiger reserve), and Hkakaborazi National Park in Myanmar.
The area is important for global biodiversity preservation — it is home to the takin, red panda, snub-nosed monkey, hoolock gibbon, and Namdapha flying squirrel, as well as many endemic flowering plants.
Chettri said participants in the December 21 meeting drafted a framework highlighting collaborative and multidisciplinary research, regional capacity-building and institutional support.
“Planned interventions will promote trans-boundary biodiversity management, cultural conservation, sustainable economic development, and enhanced ecosystem and socio-economic resilience in the Brahmaputra-Salween landscape,” Chettri said.
The meeting was organised jointly by the ministry of environmental conservation and forestry, Myanmar, and the International Centre for Integrated Mountain Development.
One of the problems plaguing Namdapha is inadequate and untrained staff. Besides, 84 families live in the core area, where there is no eco-development.
“A regional approach is required to manage this mountain landscape, to enhance the livelihoods of the people living there, and to conserve its natural resources for future generations,” said David Molden, director-general of the International Centre for Integrated Mountain Development.
“It is a welcome sign that all the three countries have shown interest. It will take some time to make it a reality as it requires consent from different levels,” L.M.S. Palni, director of the GB Pant Institute of Himalayan Environment and Development said.
The institute has two units, in Sikkim and Arunachal Pradesh, which undertake research on issues concerning the Northeast.

14 tigers in manas india and bhutan

14 cats caught on camera

- India and Bhutan meet to discuss Manas tiger count
One of the four tigers common to Manas in India and Bhutan. Photo courtesy: Manas forest department
Guwahati, Dec. 27: Fourteen tigers have been captured in Manas, straddling India and Bhutan, on cameras that scanned 650km of protected area.
Reports of the joint camera trapping were discussed at a meeting at Bansbari in Manas today, attended by officials from both Manas National Park and the Royal Manas National Park in Bhutan.
Officials from WWF and representatives from two NGOs, Aaranyak and ATREE, who had helped in camera trapping, were also present in the meeting.
Four tigers have been identified as “common”, meaning they were spotted in both countries. Of the 14 tigers, seven are male, six female while the gender of one has not been ascertained.
“There could be more tigers as only three ranges have been surveyed,” Firoz Ahmed, a member of National Tiger Conservation Authority who is also associated with Aaranyak, told The Telegraph.
“Fourteen tigers is a good enough figure considering the prey base and the situation,” he added.
Royal Manas National Park field director Tenzing Wangchuk said today’s meeting was important as one finally has an idea about the number of tigers.
“The figure will improve, as we were not able to work in all the ranges,” he said.
A document prepared by WWF on the Transboundary Manas Conservation Area says the importance of this region for tiger conservation cannot be overstated.
“It is one of our greatest hopes for tiger recovery and doubling the number of tigers here is a goal we cannot only attain but surpass,” the document says.
“By working together, through a coordinated approach to conservation, India and Bhutan can substantially increase the number of tigers in a landscape that is large enough to accommodate them without exacerbating human-tiger conflicts,” it says.
The trans-boundary Manas conservation area straddles the Indo-Bhutanese border from the Ripu and Chirang reserve forests in India in the west to Bhutan’s Khaling wildlife sanctuary in the east.


Tiger reserve heads to meet at Kaziranga

2-day meet on tiger reserves

The heads of tiger reserves in the country are holding a two-day meet in Kaziranga on January 17 and 18 for the first time to discuss the state of the reserves and the road ahead

.“The meeting is being held for the first time in the Northeast and we are proud to host it,” Kaziranga National Park director Surajit Dutta said.

The reserve is estimated to have 106 tigers and has been classified in the “very good” category by the National Tiger Conservation Authority.

“This will give a good opportunity for tiger reserve heads to see with their own eyes the success in tiger conservation at Kaziranga,” Dutta said.

Kaziranga will also host a two-day regional training programme for tiger monitoring for the fourth phase on January 16 and 17.

In the fourth phase, teams shall be equipped with a GPS unit and a digital camera besides the regular equipment like firearms, wireless and torch. The date, time and GPS coordinates of the team will be recorded.
They will have to enter records of any illegal activity that they come across along with photographs in the datasheet along with time, date and coordinate stamp.

A management effectiveness evaluation report by the National Tiger Conservation Authority on Kaziranga said it has one of the best protection strategies, which includes 152 anti-poaching camps, a number of roads and a well-connected communication system.

The report admitted that the threat from poaching have always been there and do happen even with the very vigilant and efficient protection measures.

“On the whole, there is a concerted effort to contain the threat. It is prepared to meet emergencies arising out of flash floods, the core area is free from human habitation and the wildlife staff trained better at the senior level,” it said.

On the interaction of the management with the visitors, the report said it was limited. “There is no feedback mechanism, which could be introduced. The visitors are generally satisfied, particularly because of the elephant ride and sighting of rhinos and sometimes other animals,” it added.

The estimated total population of tigers in Assam is 143 with the lower limit being 113 and the upper limit being 173. In 2006, the population was 70.

“The recent census of tiger and the earlier ones also indicate a good population, ” the report said.
The two-day meet will give an opportunity to other tiger reserves in Assam and the Northeast to share their success stories and strategies to overcome problems.

Manas, which has just been removed from the danger list, would be telling on its strategy on tiger conservation. Dampa has no human settlements inside the core area. Pakke has excellent protection mechanism and is free from human habitation.

However, Namdapha has inadequate staff and 84 families are staying in the core area and there is no eco-development.

mizoram- palm oil hub for companies

Mizoram lures edible oil makers

A palm plantation in Mizoram. File picture
Mizoram has become a favoured destination for companies engaged in vegetable oil production after the state was identified as a major palm oil producer.
Three leading companies in the vegetable oil sector — Godrej Oil Palm Limited, Ruchi Soya and Food, Fats & Fertilizers Limited — will be setting up processing plants in the state by next year.
Mizoram agriculture department director C. Lalzarliana said.
“This will be for the first time that consumers outside the Northeast will get Mizoram palm oil through various companies.”
He said Mizoram had been identified as a major state for oil palm agriculture land and the state had earmarked 1,33,000 hectares of land for the purpose.
Interestingly, Mizoram is the only state in the Northeast where oil palm cultivation is done.
Lalzarliana said Kolasib and Mamit districts had been allotted to Godrej Oil Palm Limited, Lunglei and Lawngtlai districts were allotted to Ruchi Soya Industries Limited while Serchhip, Aizawl, and Saiha districts were bagged by Foods, Fats & Fertilizer Limited.
He said the processing factories would extract oil from fresh fruit bunches which would then be refined and used as edible oil. The kernel extracts would be used for making soaps and cosmetics.
Mizoram has already passed Oil Palm (Regulation of Production and Processing) Act, 2004. He said cabinet approval and Mizoram Public Investment Board (MPIB) clearance had been obtained for Kolasib district where Godrej Oil Palm Limited would be setting up the processing factory.
Godrej representatives said work on the factory would start this month and it was expected to be commissioned by the end of 2012.
As for Serchhip district, which was allotted to the Food, Fats & Fertilizers Limited, the agriculture department has initiated the process.
Rotlang Farm in Lungli district has been selected as the site for the Ruchi Soya factory and MPIB approval is awaited.
“The Centre, under oil palm area expansion scheme, has approved an allocation of subsidy of Rs 2.5 crore for each factory, amounting to Rs 750 lakh for the three factories,” Lalzarliana said.
In addition to the central subsidy, each private company will need to invest about Rs 4 crore in each factory. The estimated cost of one factory is Rs 6.5 crore.
The total number of farmer families engaged in palm cultivation till date is 3322.
Lalzarliana said a memorandum of understanding had been signed with the three companies a few years back.
Godrej Oil Palm Ltd has 5,840.54 hectares of oil palm plantations, Ruchi Soya India Limited has 2,534.71 has hectares, while Food, Fats & Fertilizers Limited has 971.05 hectares.
The official said bumper harvests had reported from farmers of Kolasib district and others and this indicated that oil palm could be grown successfully under the rainfed conditions of Mizoram.
The Centre has identified a total of 10.71 lakh hectares of land in 14 states of the country as being suitable for oil palm cultivation to meet the projected demand of 21.3 million tonnes by 2015.
“Malaysia and Indonesia have been playing a dominant role in the production of palm oil. But now India is preparing itself to compete in the global palm oil market. The directorate of oil palm research has been contributing by understanding the constraints affecting the production of oil palm in India and finding solutions through intrinsic research initiatives,” said S. Aluraj of the directorate of oil palm research.
He said palm was the crop of the present and future vegetable oil economy of the world as well as India. “Palm oil has good consumer acceptance as a cooking medium because of its price advantage. It is also a good raw material for manufacturing daily household articles like soaps and candles,” he added.
Currently the nine edible oilseeds varieties — groundnut, soyabean, rapeseed, mustard, sunflower, sesame, safflower, niger, castor and linseed — which are grown on about 36 million hectares, are unable to meet the demand for edible oil in India.
Consumption of palm oil in India is highest compared to that of other edible oils and the country has been mainly depending on imported oil to meet its requirements.

Dedicated air cargo service for Northeast

Dedicated air cargo service for Northeast

From carrying poultry to medicines, the first dedicated air cargo service in the private sector in the Northeast was launched today.
The air cargo service, operated by Rudra GTL Aviation Pvt. Ltd which has bookings done for one year, kicked off with a flight from Calcutta to Imphal.
“It is the first-ever dedicated air cargo service in the Northeast and the market is an untapped one,” Manosijj Roy, director of the Rudra GTL, told The Telegraph.
Rudra GTL, which is a joint venture initiative by Rudra Group of Companies and GTL Group of Companies, has wet-leased two ATR-72 aircraft from Deccan Cargo Express and Logistics Limited. Under the arrangement, Deccan provides the aircraft, complete crew, maintenance and insurance to the lessee.
The flight from Calcutta took off at 12.42pm today and touched down at Imphal at 2.20pm. The consignment included day-old chicks, medicines, essential drugs, betel leaf and garments.
Each aircraft, which has six compartments with pressurised air-conditioned cabin, has the capacity to carry seven tonnes of consignment.
“The market is a huge and untapped one and to prove it we have got bookings for the next year,” Roy said.
The cargo service will be on these routes — Calcutta-Guwahati-Calcutta, Calcutta-Imphal-Calcutta, Calcutta-Agartala-Calcutta and Calcutta-Guwahati-Bagdogra.
Roy said significant investments were pouring into the region and major companies were taking interest.
“An effective communication system was due for a long time,” he said.
Sending consignments to Manipur by road has been difficult with blockades becoming the order of the day.
Manipur was hit hard by a 120-day economic blockade of its two national highways, which began on August 1 following a demand for a separate district by the people in Sadar Hills which saw the prices of essential goods skyrocketing and life-saving medicines in short supply. The blockade was lifted on November 28.
“It will be a daily cargo service barring on Sundays,” he said.
Guwahati airport is the busiest in the Northeast with 42-45 flights taking off daily. The airport handles 7,000 passengers daily on an average. During peak season, the figure goes up to over 10,000. Apart from the region, it is the sixth busiest in the country.
Sources said air cargo service is growing at a fast rate and the Indian air cargo industry is expected to grow at 20 per cent per annum.
The Centre has been taking a lot of interest in developing civil aviation in the Northeast with the DoNER ministry coming out with a policy document on Multi-utility Aviation in the Northeastern Region — An Alternative Innovative Model for Hastening Development.
It points out that the “chicken’s neck” that connects the Northeast with mainland India only connects two states, Assam and Sikkim, and that this narrow strip of land is choked not just by a high density population, but by roads, rail lines, cables, oil pipelines and power transmission lines.
“Therefore, inclusiveness of the region with the rest of India is physically possible only through air service,” the document states.
The civil aviation ministry has in principle agreed to develop Guwahati, Agartala, Imphal and Dibrugarh airports as regional hubs.

Tourist friendly Manas India and Bhutan

India, Bhutan suggest a seamless Manas
- Officials of both countries decide on national park without borders to make it more tourist-friendly
Guwahati, Nov. 20: Tourists to the Manas National Park would soon be able to move freely into its Bhutan-based portion, thanks to a joint initiative by park officials of both countries to promote Manas as a composite entity.
This, among many other issues, was discussed at the India-Bhutan Manas coordination meeting on tiger conservation held at Gelephu in Bhutan on November 18-19. Indian park officials also visited the Royal Manas National Park during their stay in Bhutan.
Royal Manas National Park field director Tenzing Wangchuk told The Telegraph over phone from Bhutan, “Attempts should be made to form a tourist circuit connecting both the parks to attract more tourists.”
He agreed that this was for the first time that groundwork had been done to encourage tourist movement in the entire park.
At present, foreign tourists visiting the Royal Manas National Park have to get a visa to visit the Indian side. Even Indian tourists have to fulfil several norms to visit the Bhutan side.
“The idea is to simplify the procedures so that movement of tourists becomes easy from one park to another,” Manas National Park field director A. Swargiary said.
In fact, the Royal Manas National Park has opened its gates to tourists only a few months back.
“In terms of international cooperation, Manas National Park in India just had its world heritage site in danger status removed and plans to carefully develop the wildlife sanctuary as a sustainable unique tourist destination. Together with Bhutan’s RMNP, the two parks can now work together to provide and promote more eco-tourism opportunities in the region,” a WWF Bhutan report said.
Sources said the decision could be formally implemented only after being cleared by the ministries concerned, adding that more meetings would be held next month to simplify the procedures involved.
The meeting also decided to start joint patrolling in a coordinated manner and start information sharing.
“If there is information about illegal activities on either side, the park directors will call each other. Earlier, it was done at a local level,” the official said.
Camera trapping of Manas tigers, carried out in the Bansbari and Bhuyanpara ranges on the Indian side in November last year and the Manas range on the Bhutan side in January this year, had revealed that tigers roamed freely across the border.
“Four common tigers were caught on camera, which proves that they migrate from one park to another,” a forest official said.
Both countries have agreed to come out with a joint report on the camera trapping, with pictures and population estimates.
Sources said 10 tigers were spotted in Manas range of Royal Manas National Park, while nine were spotted in the Manas National Park.
A report prepared on camera trapping in lower foothills of Royal Manas National Park by the Bhutan-based Ugyen Wangchk Institute for Conservation and Environment said camera-trapping exercises were under way in Umling and Gomphu ranges, which could be supporting 15-20 tigers.


Guwahati-- the new luxury destination

Guwahati-- the new luxury destination
Guwahati-- the gateway city to Northeast India is fast turning into a hot destination for international luxury brands, services and assets.
This fact was highlighted in the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII)-AT Kearney Indian Luxury Review report released last month. While focussing on car brands with more than 50 per cent of their dealerships outside the metros, it said Guwahati was a potential destination of luxury products as well as services and assets.
Multinational automobile giant Volkswagen, which debuted in the city this year, said it was already selling more than 40 cars a month — a sales figure which is a pointer to the fact that the city is growing in terms of demand and a taste for luxury.
The report also said the luxury market in India was gaining increasing visibility with each passing year. “While the ‘buzz’ generated by this sector is disproportionately high compared to the size of the market today, it does indicate that most global luxury brands recognise the potential of India’s luxury market. Giv-en the high growth rate of the Indian market compared to mature economies, it is only likely that interest in the Indian market will increase in the days ahead,” it added.
The country’s luxury market witnessed a robust growth of 20 per cent in the past year and is estimated to have reached $5.75 billion in 2010.
Another pointer to its growing desirability of the city in particular and the region as a whole is upcoming five star hotels to be set up by hospitality majors like Taj, Hyatt and Marriot groups in different parts of Assam and Meghayala.
In keeping with this trend, Sohum Shoppe Limited, a leading multi-brand retail chain of the region, is opening the Sohum Emporio — a multi-brand mall. The mall, which is coming up on the GS Road, is scheduled to open for customers on November 19 and will have company outlets of 48 top national and international brands under on roof.
Sohum Shoppe CEO Siddarth Jalan said the company had made a proper survey of brands to shortlist the hot-selling ones. “The best part was that we were recognised. When we approached people to open outlets here, they knew of Sohum, which was a plus point,” he said.
“The Northeast is a fashion-oriented market and dressing sense of the people here is better than many others. This gives us hope that there is market for luxury products. We are bringing in products which would sell in the Guwahati market,” Jalan said.
He said the company was looking at Rs 10-crore turnover in the first year and there were plans to enter Shillong later.
Some of the brands that would be on display are Body Shop, Tommy Hilfiger, FCUK, Calvin Klein, Swarovski, Veromoda, Jack and Jones, Esprit, Gant, Mothercare and Nike.
A senior official of Jack and Jones India said Guwahati was a place where brands could come up in a big way. “If we do not have brands in the market, how do we know the strengths of the market,” the official said, adding that the Sohum Emporio outlet would be the company’s first in Guwahati.
“We also look at the brand mix where we set up our outlets,” the official added.
Amit Dhanjani, marketing head of GAS India, a premium jeans brand, hoped it would be a good debut in Guwahati.
Tommy Hilfiger, a market leader in the highly competitive premium imported designer apparel sector, also has a showroom in the mall.
Tommy Hilfiger India CEO Shailesh Chaturvedi said they were excited to make their debut in Guwahati and hoped to do well. “A lot of customers from Guwahati are buying our brand in other places and when it is available in Guwahati, the response should be good. We have been doing extremely well in non-metro cities,” he said.
The apparel brand was launched in India in 2004.


North east in cashew mood
Council cashes in on cashew
- ICAR shortlists eight varieties from 25 to grow in region
Guwahati, Nov. 4: The Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR) is looking towards the Northeast to increase cashew production meet the growing demand for the cash crop.
As a step in that direction, the Indian Council of Agricultural Research is evaluating eight released varieties developed in different cashew-growing states, which will be suitable for the region, a non-traditional area in cashew production.
“We are now looking at eight varieties of cashew nuts which can be grown quickly before the onset of rainfall,” an official at the All India Coordinated Research Project on cashew in Barapani said.
Altogether 25 varieties were given, but eight were chosen to be grown early in the Northeast considering the rainfall situation, the official said.
A cooperating centre has been established under the project at the ICAR research complex for the Northeast at Barapani in Meghalaya.
“The evaluation will help identify varieties suitable for the region. Apart from this activity, locally available germplasm — collection of genetic resources for an organism — having desirable yield attributes will also be collected and evaluated at this centre,” the director of Karnataka-based Directorate of Cashew Research, M.G. Bhat, told The Telegraph.
Bhat said the promising germplasm lines would be involved in breeding programmes for developing varieties and hybrids suitable for the region.
The present area in the Northeast under cashew is about 20,000 hectares with a production of 15,000 tonnes.
Meghalaya, Assam and Tripura are the best states for cashew cultivation followed by Manipur barring Jiribam district.
“There is good scope in the Northeast but farmers will have to emphasis more on scientific cultivation,” the project official said.
The North Eastern Regional Agricultural Marketing Corporation (Neramac) is also setting up a cashew nut processing plant, which will produce four tonnes of raw cashew nuts daily in Mancachar district of Dhubri.
“It should get commissioned by April next year,” a senior Neramac official said.
The corporation had a cashew nut plant in Agartala, which was producing only 500kg per day, which was not enough. It is looking at a different location with increased production.
To meet the growing demand of cashew kernel in India and the international market, every year, 50,000 hectares of area is brought under cashew production by planting 10,000 million grafts at the rate of 200 plants per hectare.
India has the largest area under cashew production and stands as the second largest producer of cashew in the world. Vietnam, Ivory Coast and Brazil are India’s competitors for cashew production and export.
However, the country requires about 1.3 to 1.4 million tonnes of raw cashew nuts to cater to the needs of large processing units with 5 lakh workers, especially women.
The country is producing about 0.70 million tonnes of raw cashew nuts annually and exports about 0.11 million tones of cashew kernels to over 65 countries of the world, which brings about Rs 2,906 crore revenue.


Rabbit rearing in Phek

Rabbitry boom in Phek district
- Meat deficit spurs trade

 Rabbit-rearing has become a new way of life for residents of Nagaland’s Phek district, which has been reeling under a severe meat deficit.
Three years back, the Krishi Vigyan Kendra Phek, under the aegis of National Research Centre on Mithun, started a programme to introduce rabbits to the indigenous communities as an alternative source of quality meat, and at the same time, a livelihood option for farm women.
Krishi Vigyan Kendra Phek programme coordinator R.K. Singh told The Telegraph, “The programme has become a success, as rabbitry (rabbit farming) has now become a commercial venture in the district. It has also become a good source of livelihood for the villagers.”
The people of Nagaland are predominantly non-vegetarian in their food habits and relish meat from all possible sources. Common domestic animals like pigs, cattle, buffaloes, goats, poultry and dogs and even some wild animals, reptiles, amphibians and insects are among the traditional delicacies. But despite high demand for animal products in the region, the livestock reared in the state are of inferior genetic makeup and, therefore, production is low.
Singh said the aim of the programme was to popularise rabbitry, because rabbits reproduced and grew fast and were thus found to be a good option to address the shortfall in meat production. Two exotic varieties of rabbits — New Zealand White and Soviet Chinchilla — were introduced for this programme.
Phek alone has an annual deficit of about 6,520 metric tonnes of meat, and as there was no taboo associated with consumption of any kind of meat, farmers adopted rabbitry enthusiastically.
It was introduced in 2008-09 as pilot study programme in two villages of the district — Porbami Upper Khel and Gidemi — and more villages were involved in the next two years.
“The success of this venture attracted other farmers to start rabbitry on a large scale and the kendra has trained a batch of 22 rural youths of Phek town to take up rabbitry commercially and 10 of them have been linked with the SBI for loans and to avail the benefits of government of India programme of supporting livestock activity in the state,” Singh said.
Singh said economic analysis of the rabbitry was carried out in the targeted villages and the data revealed that one female rabbit gave birth to a minimum of 25 rabbits in a year. Two-month-old rabbits fetched Rs 150 in the market, thereby generating a cumulative income of Rs 3,750 from every female rabbit.
“It was estimated that on an average, every family earned a minimum of Rs 2,000 per rabbit as profit in a year after considering all expenditures,” Singh said, adding that the cumulative wealth generation by all families was Rs 27.92 lakh a year.


Next stop for footwear giants-Northeast India

Next stop for footwear giants
Guwahati, Oct. 27: There is every reason for footwear companies to look towards the Northeast if one can get a branded footwear showroom in a far-flung place like Along in West Siang district of Arunachal Pradesh.
Reebok, the Number One sports shoe company in India, opened a showroom in Along two months back and netted Rs 4 lakh in a month, proving that distance was no excuse for companies to stay away from the Northeast.
The company has 30 showrooms in the Northeast and will be adding another 10 in a year’s time. “We are looking at the market in hill areas where the indigenous people love to wear good shoes and are looking at branded products,” a Reebok official said adding that the company would also be setting up showrooms in Tura, Pasighat and other areas.
Liberty Shoes, a $150 million company, also announced last week that it had plans to expand its presence in the Northeast. This is an indicator towards the region’s potential as a footwear market, which is spurring new players to set up shop here.
Currently, Liberty is among the top five manufacturers of leather footwear of the world, producing more than 50,000 pairs a day, using more than 3 lakh square feet of leather per month.
Liberty Group director Ayush Bansal said, “We are seeing Assam and the Northeast as a potential market and the company is planning to strengthen its network by opening new stores. The total business in the Northeast is Rs 10 crore and the target is to make it Rs 15 crore in the coming months.”
The company, which has a market share of 12 per cent in the region, has six showrooms at present and is planning to increase it to 15 within a year and a half and also to double its market share in the next five years. “We have a wide variety of shoes and are here to stay,” he said.
The company has also announced appointment of Hrithik Roshan as its brand ambassador in an attempt to connect with the youths by giving the brand a vibrant and youthful makeover. “Besides, the collection is superbly stylish yet comfortable, just how we all like it,” he said.
The special collection will be released after Diwali and will have shoes ranging from Rs 1,600 to Rs 6,000.
The footwear sector is a very significant segment of the leather industry in India. Rather, it is the engine of growth for the entire Indian leather industry.
India is the second largest global producer of footwear after China, accounting for 13 per cent of global footwear production of 16 billion pairs. India produces 2,065 million pairs of different categories of footwear (leather footwear: 909 million pairs, leather shoe uppers: 100 million pairs and non-leather footwear: 1,056 million pairs). About 115 million pairs are exported.
This implies that nearly 95 per cent of all footwear produced in the country is consumed in the country itself.
“People in the Northeast want branded shoes and they do not mind spending more money for it. They are brand conscious,” Dhanani Shoes Limited director Washim Dhanani said.
He said as the situation had improved in the Northeast, companies were flocking into the region to sell their products. “The footwear market in the Northeast is growing at 15 per cent annually and will greatly improve in the next five years.”
Metro Shoes, which opened shop last year in Guwahati, is looking to expand to other places in Assam. “Though we did not do good this year, there are plans to expand,” a manager of the Metro Shoes storeroom here said.
Woodland had opened its outlet here in 2007 after thoroughly surveying the shoe market. “Business was good when we started in 2007. After three years, it’s even better. Our customers normally belong to the age group range of 20 to 30 years and the popular shoes range from Rs 3,000 to Rs 4,000,” A. Chatterjee, a Woodland employee, said.
The formal shoes for men are priced between Rs 2,995 and Rs 9,000, while the casual shoes range between Rs 1,995 and Rs 4,495. Women’s shoes are priced between Rs 1,395 and Rs 7,000.


India-Bhutan wildlife MoU still on paper


New Delhi is yet to respond to Thimphu’s comments on a draft memorandum of understanding on wildlife cooperation between India and Bhutan over a year ago to protect Manas on both sides of the international border.
A source said Bhutan has given its comments on the MoU, but there has been no response from New Delhi.
“A senior park official from Royal Manas Bhutan visited Manas National Park a couple of days back and said his government had given its comments on the draft and has agreed to the trans-boundary concept. It was now waiting for India to go ahead,” the source said.
There have been discussions between conservation agencies on the trans-boundary issues which are also supporting the cause and called for expeditious action from the host country. A number of training programmes has been organised in Bhutan to educate officials on wildlife issues.
At present, India has a memorandum of understanding with Nepal on controlling trans-boundary illegal trade in wildlife and conservation, apart from a protocol on tiger conservation with China.
The source said the draft memorandum of understanding has to be vetted by the ministry of home affairs and external affairs.
At present, collaboration and cooperation between the managers and staff of Manas National Park and Royal Manas National Park is very strong but it needs to be formalised.
The Indian and Bhutanese park management and staff regularly visit each other to exchange information and can move freely across the border for this purpose.
Though there was joint camera trapping of tigers in both Manas National Park and Royal Manas National Park in Bhutan, the report has still not come out.
However, officials said before talking on trans-boundary issues — which is required as it will help wildlife conservation on both sides — it is important to put Manas National Park into proper shape.
There are a number of problems that still haunt Manas like the absence of control over the buffer areas. For instance, the field director of Manas has no control of these areas, which causes management problems.
The buffer area forests fall within the jurisdiction of the forest chief of Bodoland Territorial Council, whereas the core area is under the control of chief wildlife warden, Assam.
The joint IUCN/Unesco mission which visited Manas early this year has strongly encouraged both India and Bhutan to do a joint feasibility study on a trans-boundary expansion of the existing property to include larger areas of this landscape on both sides of the international border.
While Manas National Park has been declared out of danger, forest officials said it was time for Bhutan to nominate Royal Manas as a World Heritage Site, which will help both the sides. India has already given its support for helping Bhutan to nominate Royal Manas as a World Heritage Site.


Two wild habitats on Chandrapur power plant's corridor

Wildlife areas in plant way
Oct. 21: The Chandrapur power plant authorities may have to seek a forest clearance since there are two wildlife areas within 10km of the project site.
The two wildlife habitats are Amchang and Pobitora wildlife sanctuaries.
According to the rules, any project that is proposed within a distance of 10km of a national park or wildlife sanctuary must obtain clearance from the standing committee of the National Board for Wildlife.
The 60MW thermal power project, which will now be run on coal, is being executed by the Imperial APGCL Power Limited — a joint venture company comprising Imperial Energy and Construction Private Limited, Imperial Fastners Private Limited, Intelli Mine Incorporated and Assam Power Generation Corporation Limited (APGCL).
The ministry of environment and forests had asked the project proponents to provide information about any national park, sanctuary or migratory routes within 10km radius of the project site.
Of the entire site area spread over about 314 square km, around 113.52 sq km is forest land (36.2 per cent). In fact, the environment impact assessment report prepared by GIS Enabled Environment and Neo-Graphic Centre is full of errors.
The executive summary of EIA report said, “There are no ecologically-sensitive receptors or endangered species within the 10km study area from the centre of the plant site.” The EIA also said wildlife like golden langur and spotted deer, among other animals, were recorded during the study period.
Aaranyak representatives, at the public hearing held today, said both Amchang and Pobitora wildlife sanctuaries were barely 2.5km from the plant site.
He said the EIA report was wrong in saying that golden langur and spotted deer were recorded in the study area. “It has been scientifically established that the study area has no record of golden langur and spotted deer. Our plea is that such wrong information should not go to the ministry of environment and forests for seeking clearance of the project,” said Ashok Dey, a senior member of Aaranyak.
The project implementers will also raise a greenbelt around the plant site, spread across about 23 acres, working out to be more than 33 per cent of total plant area. Trees will be selected based on the type of pollutants, their intensity, location, easy availability and suitability to the local climate.
Sources said generation from the 60MW Chandrapur thermal power station will start from January 2013 after reviving it by coal.


Rhino death in Manas casts shadows

Rhino death mars euphoria over heritage tag
- Low morale of staff, deficient infrastructure & incidents of poaching plague Manas National Park
Guwahati, Oct. 21: The euphoria over Manas National Park getting its heritage tag back a few months ago has proved to be shortlived.
Vacancies at the senior level, low morale of staff because of poaching and ill-equipped main ranges are a few of the woes plaguing the national park.
It does not have a divisional forest officer or an assistant conservator of forests to look after issues at the ground level, leaving the field director to do everything.
“Outstanding universal value got back the heritage tag for Manas. Our duty now is to protect it, otherwise we stand to lose,” a source said.
“Manas, unlike Kaziranga, had suffered badly and was hit by number of factors for many years. We are getting back to action and crossing one hurdle after another,” said A. Swargiari, the field director of Manas National Park.
Sources said barring Bansbari range, which has all the facilities, infrastructure at the other two ranges, Panbari and Bhuyanpara, is still deficient.
At Bhuyanpara, there are only four elephants and communication is in bad shape.
Forest officials at the national park recently found body parts of an animal, suspected to be that of a rhino, near Rupahi camp of Bhuyanpara range.
Samples of the parts were sent to the Forensic Science Laboratory but the reports are still pending. As one rhino out of 11 is still missing, it is certain that the body parts are those of a rhino.
The sighting of the carcass after more than two weeks indicates that there was hardly any patrolling in that area.
A park official said morale of the rangers is low after the discovery. “It is difficult to believe that somebody had killed a rhino despite so much community support,” the official said.
The park officials had picked up a few persons from nearby villages in Bhuyanpara range. However, the villagers protested and even gheraoed the park authorities, leading to their release.
The villagers said they have always been supporting conservation efforts and should not be branded as suspects.
“Complacency had also set in after the park got back the heritage site tag. There was a belief that nothing could go wrong and nobody would kill a rhino,” the official said.
The Manas issue was discussed at the annual board meeting of International Rhino Foundation (IRF) in the US on October 18-19.
The foundation is one of the principal partners of Indian Rhino Vision.
“The meeting discussed the Asia programme as a whole wherein the Manas issue under Indian Rhino Vision 2020 was also discussed. IRF will continue supporting the IRV 2020 and rhino translocation despite the recent poaching,” Bibhab Kumar Talukdar, IRF Asia Co-ordinator, told The Telegraph.
“IRV 2020 is an important collaborative project and should continue,” he added.


NID documents NE textile traditions

Designers fan out to collect textile traditions
- National Institute of Design embarks on project to preserve the rich handloom heritage of the region
Guwahati, Oct. 16: The secrets behind the intricate designs and rich colours of the Northeast’s traditional garments are being documented and preserved for posterity by the National Institute of Design.
As part of this exercise, 15 designers from the Ahmedabad-based institute are travelling to various parts of Assam and meeting members of various indigenous communities to gather details about their handloom traditions.
Aarti Srivastava, an NID faculty member who is in charge of the project, told The Telegraph, “With changing times, many of the textile traditions of local communities are getting extinct. In many places, communities have stopped weaving. Synthetic yarn is now coming into use. This is an effort to document the traditions and is being done for the first time.”
She said they were making an effort under the project to get the original textiles, as otherwise, they would get lost in no time under the impact of modernisation.
Fieldwork for the project in Assam started in the last week of September and will end by next month.
The state is being divided into five areas and researchers have been allotted the work.
The plan is to build contacts with weavers, spinners, cultivators, textile collectors, royal families and all others who would provide vital insights about the textile traditions of the communities of Assam.
For the project, the institute is collaborating with the Indira Gandhi National Centre for Arts (IGNCA) — an autonomous institution established in 1987 under the ministry of culture as a centre for research, academic pursuit and dissemination in the field of the arts.
Handloom weaving is a part and parcel of life in Assam. In earlier days, the women of a family produced most of the clothes required by the family at home.
Srivastava said many of the textiles had a cultural context and the study was also looking at this aspect and added that both traditional and modern textiles were being collected.
She said Meghalaya, Arunachal Pradesh and Nagaland had already been covered under the project and good textile samples had been procured. “It has been an interesting experience, as each state has unique textiles and traditions to offer,” the NID faculty member said.
She said they had made requests to various communities to give away samples of the textiles.
According to IGNCA, the colours and designs of textiles had their symbolic meaning among some of the tribes of Arunachal Pradesh and the use of certain kinds of clothes and ornaments was often associated with a family’s social position and achievements in the fields of hospitality and war. For instance, while the Adis concentrated on simple lines and Apatanis concentrated on simple designs and simple straight lines, Mishmi weaving was more elaborate.


Road beyond spinning yarn in Northeast india

Road beyond spinning yarn
Guwahati, Oct. 13: The Northeast imports 86 per cent of its garments and dress materials despite being a region known well for its traditional weaving industry.
This revelation, made during the third expert consultative committee meeting for the growth and development of textiles in Northeast region in Shillong last month, hits home the point that the region still has a long way to go when it comes to the textile industry.
The Indian Jute Industries and Research Association has even constituted the committee for the growth and development of textile and clothing industry in north eastern region this with an eye on developing the textile sector in the region. The committee, which is attached to the textile commissioner’s office under the ministry of textiles, will act as a platform for effective coordination of resources and efforts of various programmes and schemes of the ministry.
Talking to The Telegraph, the officer-in-charge of the Guwahati-based North Eastern Regional Centre and Powerloom Service Centre of the Indian Jute Industries and Research Association, Basanta Singh, said, “There is a huge gap in the demand and supply in the textile and clothing sector in the region. The gap is a whopping 86 per cent.”
Statistics reveal that the requirement of textiles, from both powerloom and handloom sectors, in the region is 1,368 million metres per annum but the annual production is just 196 million metres, resulting in an annual supply gap of 1,172 million metres. The annual textile consumption per household is 30 metres per person.
The 2010 handloom census carried out by National Council of Applied Economic Research revealed that the Northeast states were the only ones that qualified for the “only weaver states” tag, because in these states, 94.3 per cent of adult workers were weavers and only 5.7 per cent exclusively working as allied workers.
But paradoxically, only 4.2 per cent of looms in Northeast are fully commercial.
In states outside the Northeast, 81.5 per cent of the looms are used for commercial production and another 13.7 per cent for mixed production. “However, it is a potential resource if the government is able to create an enabling environment for commercial production,” the census report said.
But the actual situation is indeed bad in Assam, where, apart from the Assam Polyester Co-operative Society Limited (APOL), all other mills have been closed because of various reasons, including mismanagement. Even APOL is operating with liabilities to the tune of Rs 23 crore.
“It is very difficult to have a viable textile industry in the Northeast. To be viable, one must produce 20,000 metres of cloth daily,” Assam Polyester Co-operative Society Limited managing director S. Mazumdar said.
He said it was also difficult to export textiles to main markets of the country, as the transportation costs were too high at Rs 6-8 per metre.
Singh, however, said, “It would not be wrong to say that there are huge opportunities available in this region. The weaving workforce is skilled and the traditional designs are in huge demand. What is needed is for it to be promoted as a niche product.”
He said there was a need for installing standard finishing processes to add value to the textiles produced in the region. The look, quality and feel of the fabric needed improvement, he said, adding that this could be done only by installing the right equipment and training the region’s manpower to use them.