Sittong: The success story of agri-farming is all set to travel across borders as young researcher and documentary film-maker Mr. Mayukh Bhattacharyya has recently made a documentary film on the integrated farm cultures of the Lepcha community of Sittong and the film entitled “Kutokodalo” has been submitted and got the nomination in Manage Agri Film Festival, Hyderabad, India and Kuala Lumpur International Film Festival, Malaysia. Mayukh is a PhD scholar in Agriculture cum Lecturer at Lincoln University college, Malaysia.
Backed by the Department of Agriculture, Government of West Bengal and with adept support from the Gorkhaland Territorial Administration, the traditional Lepcha community in Sittong Khasmahal has achieved prominent success in agri-farming, horticulture, and tourism. Besides their male counterparts, the dynamic Lepcha women have been very active in earning livelihood from all these three avenues, especially agri-farming.
In the documentary it is also portrayed that most households in the Sittong village grow vegetables both for household consumption and for utilization in farmstays and homestays. In addition, many of the Lepcha households keep pigs, cattle, and poultry for access to milk and meat. Apart from growing vegetables, the Lepcha women also grow orchids, rhododendron saplings, different varieties of bonsai, and other saplings of mountain plants and crops in the greenhouse and hot houses provided by the State government. The Lepcha women have been quite successful in developing their miniature nurseries, mostly in their households, and have been earning livelihood in addition to agri-farming.
The progressive farmers of Sittong are being trained by the learned officials of the Department of Agriculture, Government of West Bengal from time to time to keep them well acquainted with the latest developments in the field of agricultural farming. In addition, seed distribution and other indispensable support are also being provided by the local and the state government. Mr. Younus Lepcha, Deputy Director (World Bank Project), Department of Agriculture, Darjeeling, Govt. of West Bengal, said, “All the farmers here are very eager and doing a great job. They are progressing fast. Our sisters are also taking a great part in this integrated farming. They are getting govt. support and developing with all the facilities provided to them by the Dept. of Agriculture, Government of West Bengal.”
Of late, under the aegis of government officials, the Lepcha women along with their male counterparts have started cultivating kiwi, blueberry, avocado, etc. on an experimental basis in Sitong Khasmahal. The project is on the verge of success and may open up new avenues to the inhabitants of this mountain settlement.