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Traditional “Comilla” cotton set to make a comeback in Garo Hills

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Tura, Feb 23: Comilla Cotton- once the staple cash crop that boosted the economy of the farmers of Garo Hills who traded it in neighbouring Bangladesh, and which over the last many decades gradually disappeared owing to the entry of cheaper synthetic products, is now preparing to make a comeback through sustainable agro-based livelihood activities.

Traditional "Comilla” cotton set to make a comeback in Garo Hills

As many as a hundred cotton farmers of Garo Hills joined a daylong workshop on “Comilla Cotton and other agro-based livelihood activities in the North East” program at Tura’s College of Community Science, on Friday, where experts from the Central Institute for Cotton Research in Nagpur and All India Coordinated Research Project on Women in Agriculture, ICAR-CIWA provided invaluable inputs on cultivating and promoting this once highly sought after cash crop of the Garo Hills.

Since ancient times, cotton has been grown in the Garo Hills and it derived the name “Comilla” from the adjoining Bangladesh district of Comilla. During the pre-independence period, Comilla cotton was grown extensively in the West Garo Hills region because of the high demand for the crop, particularly from traders who came as far away as Sylet in Bangladesh.

At one point of time, the area of cotton plantation in Garo Hills was a whooping 7500 hectares of land, which has now been reduced to just a few hectares.

Traditional "Comilla” cotton set to make a comeback in Garo Hills

Addressing the farmers at the event, Assistant Commissioner of West Garo Hills, Aditya Verma, IAS, highlighted the significance of such workshops in fostering agricultural advancements in the region. He later had an interaction with the undergraduate students of the College.

Guests of Honor Nilesh Trivedi, Assistant Director, MSME-DFO, Tura, Meghalaya, GOI Ministry of MSME, and Dr. C. P. Suresh, Professor & Head, Department of Horticulture, NEHU, Tura and Dean of CCS, Tura Dr Jyoti V Vastrad also addressed the farmers with valuable insight on Comilla cotton and, later, seeds of Comilla Cotton were distributed to selected farmers at the event.

During the felicitation of guests, the participants had the opportunity to hear introductory remarks about the workshop from Prof. Puspita Das, UC, AICRP, Tura Center.

Farmers were also treated to an exhibition and technical sessions relating to status of Comilla Cotton in Meghalaya, exploration and conservation of landraces, and the scope of Comilla cotton for surgical products, among others.

The sessions also delved into self-employment schemes, funding opportunities for youth, agro-based fiber and livelihood opportunities suitable for the Northeast, and eco-friendly finishing of cotton, including a demonstration on cotton dyeing with Arecanut Slurry.

Also Read: Meghalaya Govt to pursue with Centre for reservation of posts in EMRS, residential schools to open huge teaching vacancies

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