L Hangthing, a resident of Nagaland's Noklak village, trekked across the state and into Assam thirty years ago to collect the seeds of fruits that people ate and threw away.
People thought he was insane when he started bringing these "alien" seeds back home and planted them in his nursery. Hangthing, on the other hand, is regarded as one of Nagaland's most diligent and forward-thinking farmers. He was the one who introduced the people to kiwi, litchi, cardamom, and a variety of other fruits and spices.
He also showed them how to grow oranges and potatoes. Everyone admires him for assisting impoverished villages in Noklak, which shares a border with Myanmar, to make a living through farming.
How It Started
In 1987, Hangthing began his journey. "In a 12-member farmer's family, I grew up fighting poverty. There were moments when we couldn't even afford two square meals, let alone the necessities of existence. I desired to be free of poverty," he shared, as reported by The New Indian Express.
"I came up with the concept of starting a nursery when I was in Class 10 and hadn't looked back since," Hangthing added. His siblings stepped in to assist him. To begin with, he planted fruits and vegetables that were locally available.
Orange And Coffee Plantation
Because the region lacked an orange plantation at the time, he travelled to Dimapur, Nagaland's commercial capital, in search of orange seeds. He extracted the seeds and planted them at his nursery on seeing wasted oranges dumped by a fruits shop.
As Nagaland residents began to contact more with Assam's, he considered attempting the unthinkable: growing fruits, vegetables, and trees unfamiliar to Noklak residents.
"I went to cardamom and coffee plantations because I wanted to do something different. The department of agriculture and horticulture in Kohima provided me with coffee seeds. I tried apple farming but gave up after realising that the soil in Noklak is not suitable for growing apples. I'm now working on a kiwi plantation as well as fish aquaculture," Hangthing said, as reported by The New Indian Express.
Hangthing discovered litchi for the first time in Dimapur in the 1990s and harvested its seeds. Many villages have been inspired by him and have begun cultivating potato that was originally imported from Assam. As per reports, at least 100-150 Noklak families now own litchi plantations.
The district administration has recognised his contributions. The farmers can extract oil and create soaps, shampoo, juices, jams, ginger and garlic paste, and cardamom oil using a machine donated by the administration to Hangthing.