IMPHAL: Will weed-growing become legal in Manipur? The Manipur Government is studying the ‘possibility’ of cultivating ganja (marijuana) for medicinal purposes in some specific areas of the State, Chief Minister N Biren Singh said today (July 18).
“We are seriously considering the option,” said the Chief Minister while addressing the inaugural function of new office buildings of Horticulture and Soil Conservation departments here. Ganja was cultivated in some other States of the country and abroad for medicinal purposes, he added. How this news will be taken by various NGOs and ‘social thinkers’ remains to be seen.
Singh hastened to add that it’s only a ‘possibility’. The Government is planning to provide alternative livelihood to poppy growers based on the horticultural crops in the State, Biren Singh said, adding that poppy cultivation on hill slopes leads to large-scale environmental degradation. Poppy, as one knows, is the source of opium.
Ganja, which is a hemp crop and a rich source of medicinal and nutritive products, is a contraband item. It grows as a shrub and its leaves are consumed. It is said that ganja grown in Manipur is one of the best in the world.
Stating that the Manipur Organic Mission Agency had been able to register 12,500 organic farmers, covering 12,500 hectares of land in the State, the Chief Minister said that around 150 MT of organic pineapples were airlifted to Delhi last year and around 4,000 MT of ginger was exported.
Informing that the State needs to focus on specific horticultural crops like pineapple, lemon, orange, ginger and yongchak (perkia), etc., which are suitable to the soil of the State, the Chief Minister said that the organic umorok (king chilli) has reached Australia, Canada and USA. The Directorate of Horticulture and Soil Conservation has acquired the Geographical Indication (GI) tag for the ‘Kachai’ lemon grown in Ukhrul district, Biren Singh said and added that now it has become the only lemon variety of India with a GI tag.
In his speech, Horticulture and Soil Conservation Minister Thounaojam Shyamkumar said that the development of the horticulture sector can make Manipur an economically self-reliant State. For this, he said, horticulture and soil conservation experts need to give proper training to farmers on a regular basis.
Principal Secretary (Horticulture and Soil Conservation) JC Ramthanga presided over the function. Horticulture and Soil Conservation Director K Kipgen, past directors and other officials of the Directorate also attended the function.