Squash week in Meghalaya to help farmers, traders

SHILLONG: In a bid to promote squash cultivation and create awareness among farmers and traders, the district basin development unit, West Khasi Hills district is organizing 'Squash Week' at Laitkseh-Marngor village from July 23 under the state flagship programme - Integrated Basin Development and Livelihood Promotion Programme.

The squash plant (scientific name Sechium edule) is a crawler species and grows in most parts of the state, especially Shillong, between June and November. It is an essential part of local cuisine.

"Villages are solely dependant on squash (Chayote) for their livelihood," an official release said, adding, that the Squash Week is being held to provide both forehand and backhand support to the farmers of these villages.

Squash is a staple diet of both young and old, especially the ailing, due to its easy digestibility and other nutrients. It is used as a vegetable in culinary preparations, while boiled squash is preferred by health conscious people.

"The state agriculture department should pursue cultivation of squash as it is high in demand," says a vegetable vendor at Barabazar, one of the biggest markets in the northeast.

"We can eat squash in any form -salads, stews, mixed vegetable preparations, pakoras, koftas and even deserts. Its leaves and stems can also be used for cooking. It also goes well with both chicken and mutton," says, Emilda, another local.