Krishi Vigyan Kendra, Cachar, Assam Agricultural University

ACTION RESEARCH PROJECT ON CULTIVATION & VALUE ADDITION OF MURTA PLANTS (Clinogyne Dichotoma)

      The handicrafts have a deep significance in the day to day life of our society. Such products depict the social, cultural and economic trait of a community. They form the base in developing entrepreneurs and setting up of small scale cottage industries leading to boosting up the economy of a particular region. The production of such items has been continuing in the region since time immemorial but due to ignorance and lack of modernization and industrialisation, they contribute only marginally to the economy. Murta (Clinogyne dichotoma) plant is of immense significance in the Barak valley zone. Murta, Mostak, Pati bet in Bengali and Pati Doi in Assamese belongs to the Marantaceae family.Geographically it is distributed in Bangladesh, parts of Assam, West Bengal and Malay Peninsula. In Bangladesh it occurs naturally in the swamp forests. Growers of Barak valley zone cultivate the plant in marshy lands and swamps. Traditionally it is propagated through rhizomes, but can be also propagated through branch cuttings and seeds. They are planted in partial shade during the months of May-June and are harvested after 2 to 3 years when they attain maturity. Many of the artisans either individually or in the form of Self Help Groups are engaged in the production of varied products from the plant though to a limited extent in conventional method. The cane (stem) of Murta plant is the raw material for making the most important value added product ‘Shital pati’, a traditional bed mat in Eastern India and Bangladesh. Moreover, many other value added products are derived from the Murta plant which include items like ladies hand bags, purse, mobile covers, file covers, hand fans etc. It is observed that presently only a handful of artisans in Cachar district are practicing this art of making shital pati though the industry has immense potentiality in the region. Moreover, it is seen that the area under cultivation of Murta has decreased or is stagnant. Keeping in view the above facts, the following objectives are taken up for developing the industry in new high.

Objectives:
  • Increase acre age (Cultivation in Marshy/ Swamp wastelands)
  • Rejuvenation of artisans and handicraft sector
  • Generating employment avenues
Selection of Beneficiaries: Three farmers from Srikona village of Cachar district have been selected after conducting initial survey for implementing the proposed project. The details of the selected beneficiaries are:
  1. Sudhir Chandra Mondal
  2. Manoranjan Dey
  3. Umesh Dey
Site selection:
The village Srikona in Cachar district has plenty of Murta plantation in a scattered manner. To develop the plantation in a scientific way, an area of 1 bigha is selected to serve as a model demonstration unit in the locality. The land area is selected just adjacent to the National Highway.