Regreening 20 acre barren land for productive use

For ages community land of Nongkhroh village in East/West Jaintia Hills District of Meghalaya was left barren without even a blade of grass. There was no conscious effort to make this land productive for the villagers.

Today, Nongkhroh in the Thadlaskein Block is recognized as one of the strongest village in terms of people collective action for greener ecosystem. The community planted saplings in 20 acres barren land.

“We never thought that this piece of community land in our village could be converted into a productive land with so many trees”, says Elvin Mynsong, Headman of the village while thinking of the past days.

“The team encouraged the community to transform the community barren area into productive land”, informed Jimmy Raul Kharmuti, Project Coordinator of Jaintia Hills Development Society (JHDS).

Since 2017, the FARM team was motivating community members to think and act jointly for greater benefit in future. Meetings with the Dorbar Shnong (village council) and general public led to the plantation of around 2,650 tree saplings leading to the transformation of barren land into a healthy and green ecosystem. The 20acre land is going to support 311 HHs of Nongkroh village for their needs. The regreening efforts in the area was achieved in a year with motivation from FARM Northeast team under Jaintia Hills Development Society (JHDS).

“Initially, it was difficult for us to believe but the JHDS team had encouraged and built our confidence, now the result is here for generations to see”, says Smt. Elbina Nongrum, Head Teacher of U.P School Nongkhroh. Working in a PLD based project it was important for me to see that the community decides on their own and thereby take action said Rimigius Pyngrope, Animator.

Once the community came forward for an action for their benefit, the JHDS team facilitated development of proposal for acquirement of tree saplings from the Government Departments.

Rather than just planting tree, the community decided to plant Neem tree due to its usefulness and medicinal properties and it could also be used or making organic pest repellents in agriculture. Due to high demand of timber for house construction in the area, they also decided to go for one timber species. This would help in reducing the burden on the forests for timber extraction.

To maintain a balance in the ecosystem, the community decided that whenever some timber yielding tree would be extracted, 2 new saplings will be planted to fill the gap. In the month of June 2018, the community received 1150 of Neem saplings free of cost from the Department of Horticulture. “We were happy with what we received but not satisfied as we needed more saplings to cover the whole area the land”, said Kyrmen Rynjah Secretary of Nongkhroh Village.

JHDS team realized the need and facilitated the community to approach the Forest Department to get 1500 more saplings of Poma (Chukrasia Sp.) tree. The community’s upbeat mood for doing something good could not be pulled back. When asked to pay Rs. 3000 for 1500 saplings by the Forest Department, the community never gave a second thought and paid the amount by pooling money informed Jimmy.

During the world environment day celebration, Nongkhroh saw people thronging from each household to plant saplings for a better future. The invited guests from the Government department were speechless to witness such community action for the ecosystem.