IMPHAL, Aug 30: The pineapple growers of Khou-sabung fondly remembered their beloved Pu Songpu Gangte who first introduced and started growing the juicy fruit in the village on the occasion of the first State level Pineapple festi-val held today.
One of the remote villa-ges of Churachandpur dis- trict, Khousabung is loca-ted 45 kms from Imphal.
According to the villa-gers, it was Songpu Gangte who first brought Pineapple from Lakhipur, Assam in 1947 and started growing in the village. After that peo-ple of surrounding villages also started taking keen in-terest in cultivation of the fruit, thus becoming one of the main sources of sus-tenance for all of them.
The survey report of the Manipur Pineapple Festival Committee, Churachand-pur District pointed out that under Khousabung DCC at present pineapples are being grown in over 700 acres of land by the villa-gers of Khousabung, Bung- lon, Ningthiching, New Ningthiching, Harmont-lang, Muolhoih, S Nabil, Songdo, Phunchongjang, etc, producing over 70 lakhs of pineapples every year. Imphal, Churachandpur and Moirang are mentioned as the main markets of these pineapple production.
Position winners of Manipur Pineapple Queen Contest held at
Khousabung village of Churachandpur district on August 30.
Bringing together the pineapple growers of the area for the first time, the pineapple festival was or-ganised by Manipur Pine- apple Festival Committee at Khousabung DCC Head-quarters today.
Around 15 stalls were set up and participated in the day-long festival.
Interacting with The Sangai Express, Nengboi Gangte, one of the pine-apple growers who opened a stall, appreciated the or-ganiser of the festival and hoped more such festivals would also be organised in the future.
Dargou Gangte, son of Songpu Gangte, informed that since the days of his father, growing pineapple has been the main source of income of their family.
“Though my father passed away in 1978, all the villagers still remembered him fondly. Overwhelmed by happiness over the fes-tival, I stopped selling pine- apples for today and has been making arrangement for the visitors to taste the fruit”, he said beaming with smile.
In view of the popularity of pineapple cultivation among the villagers of the area, Dargou Gangte wished the State Govern-ment and its experts pay more attention so as to in-crease the production.
He also felt setting up of a factory to extract pine-apple juice in the village would be helpful to the pineapple growers.
Another stall owner pointed out that frequent calling of bandhs and bloc-kades is a real bane for the pineapple growers in trying to sell their products, which become fully mature by mid-dle week of July to last week of August, as ripe pinea-pples could not be kept for more than three days.
The inaugural function of the festival was attended by Horticulture Minister Phungzathang Tonsing as chief guest, MLA Manga Vaiphei as president and social worker Amrik Singh Pahwa as guest of honour.
As part of the festival, a Manipur Pineapple Queen contest was also held in which 11 contestants participated.
After a gruelling session, Tonchan Maibam of Kwa-keithel Maibam Leikai was crowned the Pineapple Queen with the titles of the Ist runner up and the 2nd runner respectively going to Momoko Khangembam of Ghari Awang Leikai and Roshni Leishangbam of Moirang College Gate.
Several hundreds thronged the festival venue enjoying the gala evening.