Horticulture in Tripura: Through the Decades
Tripura, a formerly princely State, is currently a member of seven sisters in the North Eastern States. It had a long list of tribal kings stretching back to antiquity. For cultivation, the state was granted the zamidary rights over the plain territory, Chakla – Rosanabad consisting of 22 Parganas during the reign of Jagat Manikya(1432), where different traditional fruits were cultivated later. These includes Mango, Banana, Guava, Watermelon, Custard Apple, Jamun, Rose, apple and Lemon and vegetables like Brinjal, Chilli, Tomato, Radish and Pumpkin. The hilly part was mostly under Jhum crops with vegetables like Chilli, Kakrol, Sweet Gourd, Summer melon etc.
Then for introduction of plain land cultivation, the- then rulers brought in some Muslim families of East Bengal who had reclaimed some Lunga lands(valley) for cultivation and settled here. During the regime of Maharaja Bir Bikram Manikya Bahadur(1923-1947) some measures were taken for development of Agriculture in hills and plain areas and cultivation of Potato was given priority. Orchards of Litchi & other local fruits were set up (1937) at “Litchu Bagan” and “Payari Babur Bagar” in Agartala.
After partition(1947), losing the territory of “Chakla-Roshanabad” to earst while East Bengal(now, Bangladesh), the cultivation of hilly Tripura was limited to minimum plain lands near the river beds and in the hilly terrains only.
Then, in fifties, nine orchards were established by the then Government for cultivation and expansion of areas under fruits, plantation crops and spices. Almost parallely, some private gardens were also developed by the tribal Sardars of different helmets where Mango, Jack, Olive, Tej Pata, Lemon, Coconut, Areca nut, Pineapple & Oranges were planted.
During 1957, efforts were taken for popularizing cultivation of fruits and plantation crops like, Cashew nut Coconuts and Areca nuts and two more orchards were established in South District in the year 1963-64. During this time, the Queen pineapple & Khasi mandarin of the state got larger recognition in the country for their specific qualities.
After achieving Statehood(1972), more orchards were established throughout the State and special fillip was given to Horticulture during 1998 onwards. Now a sizable area(1.18 lakh ha) is under various indigenous, exotic and commercial crops.