Kharthong Organic Farmers Producer Company (Phase II) Farmers Support

Location: Dima Hasao, Assam

Name: Kharthong Organic Farmers Producer Company
Geographical Coverage: 17 villages in Kharthong area of Dima Hasao, Assam.
Ethnicity: Biate Tribe
Households: 800+ Households
Main Occupation: Most of the community depends on traditional organic farming
to feed and sustain themselves.

Biate community is a largely ignored and obscure minority. They are an endangered community and there are only 15,000 - 20,000 Biate people in the world today. Most of the community resides on both sides of the Assam- Meghalaya border region with 17 villages in Assam and 25 on the Meghalaya side.

While the community has been given recognition at district level, they are still struggling for recognition as a community by Assam state.

Being a minority in a region with long history of tribal feudalism has its own disadvantages. In Dima Hasao district, all political representatives are from the tribe with the largest population. Hence, minority communities like the Biate and their areas have been largely ignored.

Kharthong area still remains largely under developed with poor roads, and public facilities etc. The community primarily depends on growing organic products like ginger, turmeric, oranges, chillies, pumpkins, papayas, tobacco etc for sustenance. But due to poor rates ofered to them by middle men and mandi agents they have been struggling to make ends meet and provide for educational, medical and other basic needs of their family.

For example, organic ginger that can cost as high as 200/kg in organic stores is bought from the farmers by middle men at 10-20/kg. Poor economic conditions force people to compromise on essential things like proper healthcare, education, and nutrition for themselves and their families.

Why is the project needed?

Swaroop Nagar block is a highly arsenic contaminated zone. Based on WHO and Indian Government standards this entire belt is a red zone. Due to lack of alternatives many people are forced to use hand pumps dispensing arsenic contaminated ground water. This is exposing the locals to unsually high levels of arsenic, leading to numerous deaths due to arsenic poisoning.

A local woman near Bithari filling contaminated ground water for drinking.

Surface Treatment Plant Images