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“ICAR-National Bureau of Plant Genetic Resources, Regional Station Umiam in collaboration with Department of Horticulture, North Eastern Hill University (NEHU), Tura Campus at Tura, West Garo Hills, Meghalaya organised a One Day “Citrus Biodiversity Fair and PGR Conservation Awareness Programme” for the farmers of Garo Hills on 11th December, 2023. The program was attended by 116 farmers (44 female, 72 male) from different villages covering three districts of Meghalaya viz. West Garo Hills, East Garo Hills and South Garo Hills. Prof. P.S. Shukla, Vice Chancellor, NEHU, was the Chief guest of the programme.

Programme was also graced by the Prof. Sujata Gurudev, Campus Director, NEHU, Tura Campus, Dr. S.K. Malik, Principal Scientist and Nodal Officer NEH Scheme, ICAR-NBPGR, New Delhi and other dignitaries from State Horticulture Department and other state officials. At the outset Dr. C.P. Suresh, Head Horticulture, Department of Horticulture, NEHU, Tura Campus delivered the welcome address. Dr. S.K. Malik gave a brief introduction of the program highlighting the mandate of the program and also emphasized on its benefits for the farmers of Garo Hills. He also highlighted the unique citrus genetic diversity available in the region and the need for awareness and understanding for efficient uses of citrus biodiversity and need for conservation of citrus germplasm for sustainable development. Dr. Subarna Hajong, Scientist, ICAR NBPGR RS Umiam while underlining the role and activities of ICAR-NBPGR, also spoke on the importance of conservation of local and indigenous crops for sustainable and resilient agriculture in the local Garo language to benefit the farmers. Prof. Sujata Gurudev, Campus Director, NEHU, Tura Campus, encouraged the farmers to develop unique region-specific products like Citrus honey. The Chief Guest of the program, Prof. P.S. Shukla while underlining the genetic resource richness of the NE region also stressed on the need for production of good quality citrus planting material for increasing citrus production in the region. He also inaugurated the Citrus Fair and emphasized the need for greater collaboration with ICAR-NBPGR for organizing such activities in NEH Region for the benefit of farmers. In the Citrus Biodiversity Fair participating farmers showcased local diversity of diverse citrus germplasm which is available in the region. The unique Citrus species displayed in the Fair were Indian Wild Orange (Citrus indica) also known as Memang narang in Garo, Citrus macroptera (Chambil), Citrus reticulata (Khasi mandarin), Citrus jambhiri, Citrus limon, C. aurantifolia, C. grandis, C. medica and other intermediate types. An open farmer-scientist interaction session was also organised to understand and address various issues faced by the citrus growing farmers. Distract Horticulture Officers from the Garo Hills also addressed the farmers and responded the quarries of farmers. During the program, agricultural tools and citrus saplings were distributed to the participating farmers. The program concluded with the vote of thanks proposed by Shri O.P. Dhariwal, Technical Officer, ICAR-NBPGR, New Delhi.

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