Driven by a mission to take forward the age-old tradition of organic farming and promote its products, YRP Tribal Agro, a local enterprise, has made a unique mark and registered its presence in the field of organic production and business in the state of Manipur.
The enterprise was founded by a trio of Ukhrul’s youths namely, Yaruingam, Ramlung and Philachui back in 2018. “The main vision of our enterprise is to keep alive our forefathers’ tradition of organic farming, while promoting organic products in the market to improve the lot of farming community in the villages,” highlighted one of the founding members Yaruingam Ningshen in a communication with Ukhrul Times.
“We recognized that there was an opportunity where we could bridge the gap in the supply and demand of natural and nutritional food to people outside our villages. That we could uplift the lives of farmers in our villages, by helping them connect to fair buyers who would pay them the right price for their valuable produce,” he continued.
Stating that ensuring sustainable farming practices is a priority, he said that the same could also generate employment for our educated tribal youths, while they continue to live in their own lands in the company of their loved ones and still make a living.
“Ours is an initiative to make available our natural food to the rest of the world, while improving the welfare of the farmer community in our villages,” Yaruingam explained.
According to him, another priority of the enterprise is environment. “We are concerned about protection of the environment around us through organic means. This is one aspect that inspires us in our activities,” he exuded.
He maintained that as educated youths, they realised how unsustainable farming practices were harming the environment: soil, water and air elsewhere. “Sure in the villages, only a decade or so ago, none of our fellow villagers heard of the term ‘organic’ but organic is a way of life for them long before the world got into the organic trend,” he said.
He further related that tribal farming techniques remain traditional and mostly manual and added that: “It’s a beautiful method where there is perfect unity and interdependence between humans, animals and nature.”
Responding to a query, he said that the enterprise has already launched seven organic products of its own. He said that among the products are Blend Perilla tea (green tea- immunity booster), Naga’s King Chilli (dried Umarok), Natural spring salt (Marangphung-Hao Machi), Sira-rakhong chilli powder (haathei), Lakadong turmeric powder, Grihang Theishui (fermented soyabean) and Perilla seeds/powder (Hanshi).
He informed that these products are made from farm produces that xare clean, nutritious and indigenous and are directly sourced from village based farmer’s groups from Ukhrul and Kamjong districts.
“Today, the demand for such natural organic produces is on the rise in cities and very rightly so, because many people, especially those in the cities that do not have access to such clean and nutritious food. Many are putting their health in jeopardy by consuming chemicaI-Iaden food products that come in attractive packages with impressive advertisement,” he observed.
YRP is a combination of the initials of the three founding members who were all born in different farmer’s families. “Our family‘s sole occupation was farming. The villages we were born in is far away from towns and cities, situated close to the border of Indo-Myanmar international border”, Ningshen said.
He continued that their parents toiled hard in the fields so that they could provide their children with the education they needed to lead a better life, unlike their farming parents.
“So, we studied in towns and then migrated to big Metro cities for better education and employment opportunities. The education that our uneducated parents gifted us, has helped us to analyse, prioritize, research and think clearly. After years of living in the city, it dawned upon us that our calling was to return home — our tribal land where the soil is healthy, water is pristine, air is pure and the sky is clear,” he explained.
He maintained that even though lack of proper road connectivity is besetting many of the villages, the natural soil, water, and air found in the villages are an envy.
“At a time when the rest of the world are grappling with the growing environmental pollution crisis, a small cluster of our villages remains protected and secluded from all the ill effects of modern technology and development,” he further noted.
“To this day, we are grateful to our parents and forefathers for keeping the fields and forests natural and untouched by any harmful chemicals fertilizers or pesticides,” Ningshen pronounced.