My childhood memories of Shillong include basket-full of oranges,plums,
peaches and pears brought home for sale by good looking vivacious khasi young ladies(kongs)
In my youth, such visits of vendors became rare except for vegetables maybe. The strange disappearance of local fruits from the market was due to export to other states through middlemen, I came to learn. Now, the Shillong fruit market is no different from any other markets we see. Effect of market driven economy , I presume !
In my early days in Guwahati, the Beltola bajar, close to my residence was the place to go for vegetables. Over a period of time, hybrid vegetables, grown with liberal use of chemical fertilizers swamped the market to meet the ever increasing demand of a fast growing city. When, in fact all vegetables were organic or local ( colloquially) , the term ‘organic’ was not in vogue. The hybrid crop was alien both to the land and the taste buds. It is to be conceded that the hybrid variety scores over the organic products in terms of its sheen and yields. The market demand had set the tone for producers to change their crops !
Sometimes, when I see school going children in different uniforms and school badges, the dreadful thought comes to my mind — are we preparing Batches for the job market with best possible tags just like the small sticker we see on a Kashmiri apple or an Alfonso mango for example, to fetch the best price or pay-packages so to say !!
There is a feeling that in spite of its obvious value, the organic products, in the broad sense of the term, are losing it’s market place !!
Logically, it is in the hands of the producers to decide what will go to the market. But are they so empowered ? Public opinion and supportive government policies may be the empowerment needed to reverse the process , to truly make our PRODUCTS wholesome. “Wholesome products for a wholesome society” could be a slogan for the future !!