A small processing unit, which can speed up drying of a minimum of 100 kilogram of chilli on a daily basis, has been formally handed over to the villagers of Sirarakhong. A small hamlet, Sirarakhong is located about 67 km away from Imphal in Manipur’s Ukhrul district. The processing unit costing around Rs 9.5 lakhs was provided by the Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR), Manipur centre under its tribal sub-plan scheme, considering its requirement in the village through the Sirarakhong Hathei Promotion Committee.
The processing unit includes a grinder, a dryer, sealer, sieving and weighing machines. The very small but meaningful formal handing over and taking over function of the processing unit was held on the second day of the ongoing three-day ninth Hathei Phanit (Chilli Festival) in the presence of senior scientist Dr Subhra Saikat Roy of ICAR, Manipur centre, and headman Wungkhayap Zimik of Sirarakhong village.
‘Sirarakhong village produces one of the most exclusive chilli varieties, which has the higher ASTA colour value in the country,’ said Dr Roy.
Besides having vitamin C, Sirarakhong chilli popularly known as Hathei in local tongue has a deep red colouring agent while Kashmiri ones have a royal red colour. Presently, the chilli is cultivated in the jhum areas of the village, which has about 400 houses with a population of more than 2000.
Eighty percent of the population are engaged in chilli cultivation to produce around 10,000 kilograms of chilli annually. There are eight varieties of chillies including Hathei in Manipur, according to horticulture officials.