//Ginger rules tribal power games in Assam

Ginger rules tribal power games in Assam

Ginger rules tribal power games in AssamSunday, March 12, 2006 (Diphu):
Assam’s Karbi Anglong district grows the finest ginger but its sharpness is now affecting local politics. Karbi Anglong is predominantly a Karbi district but it is the minority Kukis who control the ginger cultivation.
With half a dozen tribes inhabiting the area, everyone wants a share of the most lucrative business in the region.But the Kukis do not have complete control. It is the trader who decides the price at which the produce must be sold. Last year Kuki cultivators got Rs 20 for a kilo but this year they have been paid just Rs four for a kilo.

"We are being exploited by traders but we have no way to complain regarding the reduction of prices. We do not know how many deductions were made and how many parties paid in secret.

"The trader deducts it from the grower. Money worth crores is pumped into this trade and it causes envy," said J Tuboi, ginger cultivator.
Trade woes  Traders however, have their own set of reasoning."We depend on the Delhi market. When the South has a good crop, prices fall. Though this is the best quality and Pakistan was buying our ginger, this year not a piece has gone.

"Apparently China is selling them for Rs four a kilo. That is really cheap," said Om Prakash Swami, ginger trader.Adding to their woes are militant outfits that demand Rs 5000 per truckload of ginger. To take care of this problem the Kukis have hired a militant group, the Kuki Revolutionary Army from Manipur to protect them.

Political instability The instability in the region does not help and the tribals have no hopes from the government. "There must be a political hand in this instability and we have no hope from political parties or politicians. We have to vote so we will vote but we have no expectations," said a local.The people in the area grow the finest ginger of the subcontinent but their lives tell a completely different story.
They live in broken homes with no facilities of drinking water in schools or hospitals for medical attention.