For 80-year-old Singwan Ch Marak, age is just a number and that needs no heeding.
For the past eight years, the 80 year old has but one dream – to grow organic vegetables in his small plot of land that can actually feed his family as well as provide some income for them.
His routine for the past eight years has been very simple. After a breakfast of rice curry, he hurries down to his field where he works on the plants that he has been nurturing to fruition, using only his tools and an iron will.
While what he grows may not make him rich, the fact that he continues the routine, without fail everyday in itself is a major feat.
His treasure trove lies in the village of Chandigre, about 30 kms from the town of Tura en route to Williamnagar through the Asanang Road. His farm measures a little over one bigha within which he has sown potatoes, onions, broccoli, various saags, beans among others all of which he plants himself and takes care of himself.
Marak’s family consists of his wife and 7 children and a grandchild, most of whom work towards running the family’s expenses. While job card work provided by the Rongram C&RD Block has been of help, it is not enough to support the family of 10. Other odd jobs have to be undertaken by the family to make ends meet and the octogenarian’s farm provides some help in coping.
“The returns for the efforts put in by him don’t really count for much but it has been his obsession to produce organic produce of as many varieties of foods he can for the family. He sells some to nearby traders and even to some from Assam but we always get fresh and healthy food through his efforts,” said Singwan’s daughter.
According to the farmer, he procures seedlings from nearby Rongram before planting them at his farm. However the excessive costs have been burning a hole in his pocket. While there have been some well wishers who contributed a little to his farm, the farmer rued the lack of government support in providing him assistance.
He is however extremely proud of the fact that many have recognised his hard work with students from NEHU’s Rural Development coming to visit his farm on a study tour.
He hopes, one day, others will join him in bringing about an agricultural revolution in the state – one that will open people’s eyes to the wonders of their own efforts.
“We have been amazed at his dedication towards his farm even at this age. He was doing odd jobs earlier but this has been his life for the past 8 years and it’s inspiring to know that even at this age he still continues to do physical labour in his farm,” said activist Jaynie N. Sangma, who visited the farmer recently along with members of Impulse Social Enterprises, Balipara Foundation, Hills Farmers’ Union and the World View Impact Foundation – an international NGO.
The visitors were amazed at the amount of effort put in by Singwan despite his age and have promised to look into ways to help him with it.