University plans aid local farmers
GUWAHATI, (C.M. Paul) -- Medicinal and Aromatic Plants (MAP) are a vanishing species today. For the rural and marginal farmers to cultivate and market them are no more a lucrative proposal. In a bid to create avenues for villagers living around Tapesia Tea Garden on the outskirts of the city,?Assam Don Bosco University?(ADBU) plans to open a MAP research unit on its permanent campus at Tapesia. The ADBU Department of Social Sciences at Azara with the help of social work students has already started studying the needs of the population, mostly tribal, living around the university's permanent campus spread over 496 acres of tea plantation. "Our plan is to generate employment in and around the area where ADBU's permanent campus is coming up. We will encourage the local people living in the area and engaged in traditional farming to begin cultivate medicinal herbs and aromatic plants,? says ADBU Vice-Chancellor Dr. (Fr.) Stephen Mavely. To allay the skeptics, Dr Mavely quickly adds, ?We will also create avenues for these villagers to sell their products, and it can help in a big way to change the economic scenario for the benefit of the villagers." To make full use of these projects and facilities, the university has chalked out plans to open a ?full-fledged food processing technology department and plant, as well as courses on tea technology and biotechnology with a strong accent on research.? "Medicinal plants will be planted in our permanent campus at Tapesia and their applications will be tested. Locals of the area will also be involved in this plantation in their homes, which will be made available to drug companies," says, Dr Mavely. "Our teams have started interacting with the villagers for resource mapping. The aim is to utilize the local resources for the benefit of locals by increasing productivity," says director of Don Bosco?Institute of Social Sciences, Dr Riju Sharma. A member of the social work team adds ?there is immense potential in the Tapesia area for orange, banana, guavas, coconut, lemons,?mango?and jack fruit cultivation.? "We have earmarked 250 acres of land on the university premises for tea plantation, and in the coming months full scale organic and red tea production is expected,? says Dr Mavely.