A village in Meghalaya, once notorious for brewing country liquor and the drunken brawls that ensued, has now turned into a model village by opting to brewing tea instead.
Brainchild of former school teacher and village headman D L Nongspung, the Mawlyngot Tea Grower’s Society has 20 farmers who have transformed the village with a co-operative model to produce over 3000 kgs of organic green tea leaves annually in 50 hectares of land.
For the last two years, they have been exporting green tea to Australia.
A decade ago, Mawlyngot, located about 45 km from Shillong, was infamous for alcoholism. The women produced a brand of rice and millet liquor known as “Pyrsi” in the local Khasi language.
Now the same women have switched over to brewing the delicate flavours of green, white and orthodox black tea, branded as “Urlong” which means “Dreams come true” in their language.
A mother of nine children, 46-year-old Mortabon Umsong is one such woman.
“As young girls we were frightened to step out due to drunkards roaming around. The situation was more acute during the weekly markets,” she told PTI.
With initial funding from the Ministry of Tribal Affairs, tea saplings were planted in 2003 and after four years plucking of leaves began. Later on, they found support from World Vision India (WVI) for setting up a tea processing unit.
“One of the most significant impacts that we have seen with the shifting of occupation from liquor to tea plantation is that alcoholism, conflict, broken family and other social evils prevailing in this village have reduced tremendously over these years,” WVI officials said.