The first Saramati ‘apple festival’ was held at Thanamir village on September 29 with Dr. N. Benjong Aier, mission director (TM-NE), directorate of horticulture as chief guest.
The festival was organized by the department of horticulture in collaboration with the Nagaland Missions Movement (NMM) and Thanamir village council.
In his speech, the chief guest pointed out that the apples in Thanamir Village came as a gift of God, a gift that grew out of friendship between an army personnel and J. Yungbokhiung of Thanamir village.
Therefore, he urged for a partnership among the villagers, the NMM and the horticulture department to develop apple cultivation, so that the present state of apples being used for personal consumption would be a rich source of income for the villagers. The department had already provided a few thousand apple plants last year brought from Himachal Pradesh and has been doing very well.
He emphasized on following the specifications as given by the department based on scientific methods of cultivation like the importance of proper spacing, pruning and training, right cultivars, etc., which are necessary for bearing quality fruits and compete with those in the markets on commercial line. He also expressed the need for improvement of road condition in the name of Apple Road coupled with tourist road as Thanamir is located on the way to Mt. Saramati.
He also proposed Self Help Groups to be trained in making apple juice and other preservation methods to be sold at during the hornbill festival. “Not only will all these bring immense economic benefit to the villagers as it can also boost cross-border missionary work as the NMM is engaged in such a project at the village”, he added.
The chief guest echoed the proposal of the parliamentary secretary (CAWD) to make Thanamir the “Apple Village.” Short speeches were given by the SDO (Civil), Pungro, DHO, Kiphere and Thsantsumong.
The history of the first apple plants in Thanamir was narrated by Yungbokhiung, the man who planted the first plant in 1981.
Rev. Wati Longkumer, Director of NMM spoke on the topic, “Count Yours Blessings.” Tangit Longkumer, NMM Missionary posted at Thanamir announced that the Saramati ‘apple festival’ will be an annual event. After the program, apple exhibition-cum-sale was held followed by training on commercial cultivation of apple conducted by the department in which 150 farmers attended. Horticulture equipments, hybrid vegetable seeds were also distributed to the farmers. The festival was also attended by the SDO (Civil), Kiphire, several government officials and village council chairmen from neighbouring villages.