The sweet-delicious smell that uses to come out when sugarcane juice is put on woven for boiling was, undoubtedly, one of the nostalgic experiences of rural upbringing in Tripura, at least, until a few decades ago. Croplands full with mature sugarcane swinging with wind are still a sight to be remembered from childhood for many.
But, this traditional harvesting has dwindled in manifold and become one of the less practiced agricultural in most parts of the state. Surma village of Kamalpur subdivision under Dhalai district is one of the few left helmets of the state where sugarcane is still planted and harvested every season despite many odds. Though, the scale of plantation has reduced, but a handful of people, mostly of Hindustani community who once came here to work in tea gardens, are still doing the job to survive the traditional sugarcane farming.
Speaking to this correspondent, veteran sugarcane farmer Raghunath Ahir said, constraint of capital is the biggest hurdle in sugarcane cultivation. In their own words, market is good for sugarcane and “Gur (molasses made of sugarcane juice)” and demand of this product is increasing every day, especially in the winter season, when several kinds of “Pitha (a traditional desert cake prepared in the households)” is baked. But, increasing prices of farming equipments and fertilizers have put an extra burden upon the farmers.
He also hoped that if the government intervenes with a positive plan the traditional sugarcane may witness a revival which will not only generate income for the unemployed youth but will also prove as a “game changer” in Tripura’s agrarian economy.
One Uttam Ahir, a 25-year old young man of the same locality, said, in our childhood we have seen how cropland turned eye-catching with tall sugarcane trees. But, with the span of time, the scenic beauty of sugarcane fields literally disappeared. Replying to a question on employability through sugarcane industry, he said, the idea is good. If we can do something in the field of agriculture it will be a privileged for us. His accompany, Rupanrayan Ahir also echoed the same and urged the government to take planned initiatives.
However, an official of the local agriculture office who is working there for since long, said, when I joined service here, sugarcane was cultivated in large scale but for some reasons the cultivation reduced manifold. He also accepted the fact that a well-lit approach is needed to revive the traditional sugarcane cultivation.