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Editorial

Blessings of agriculture

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By EMN Updated: Nov 28, 2013 11:46 pm
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Nagaland, the land of what some people have described as “Village-States” may not be as advanced as the Greek “City-States” of yore. Social customs, traditions, political goals and elements of war notwithstanding, our land is still dependent on agriculture which is the main stay of the economy. And this factor is important because rich or poor, everyone must eat something or the other. So there must be no issues where food is concerned.
Even now, about eighty per cent of the people are rural-based although more and more towns are expanding to accommodate the migration from rural to urban areas especially by the youths in search of more lucrative jobs. About four-fifths of all workers are cultivators. Our crops include autumn and winter rice, small millets, edible seeds, oilseeds, sugarcane, potatoes and tobacco. Plus, there are a number of vegetable varieties (250 or so out of available over 1,200 plants) both for food and medicine.
An inadequate amount of land and the practice of slash and burn (jhum) farming practices have resulted in food shortages, and Nagaland must import large amounts of food. Agriculture has been undergoing a slow but steady transformation, however, with wasteful products being replaced by improved methods.
Another primary source of income and employment is forestry. Exploration has revealed chromium, nickel, cobalt, and iron ore deposits but at present only coal is mined. Recent drilling suggests exploitable oil reserves in Champang, and Dikhu River valley in Wokha district. The State’s first hydro-electric plant started operating in 1978 but still has much to be desired including the constant problem of land compensation imbroglio.
Industrial development in our State is still hampered by the lack of adequate raw materials, financial resources, and power (further compounded by pilferage/power thefts), inadequate road communications and transportation facilities. We have only a few all weather roads and a few miles of railway line.
Prevailing small industries are rice mills, saw mills and cottage industries which include weaving, basketry, woodworking, and pottery making. Viable industries which burst with fanfare like distillery, sugar mill, fruit cannery, paper mill, plywood factory etc eventually became defunct.
Nevertheless, we have to focus on the food front, in other words agriculture and allied sectors. Fortunately, as far back as can be recalled, our forefathers did not use pesticides to increase production. They depended on what the land provided naturally. In fact, they were used to organic food. The problem arose because of the continuous increase in population.
One of the drawbacks in agriculture is that most of the land is for one crop production. Perhaps this calls for research on crop rotation and soil science. Some effort in this context was made when NEPED (Nagaland Environment Protection for Economic Development) concentrated on ensuring that jhum areas in the fallow years be used for other productive purposes.
Nagaland continues to import 80% of food grains and every other food item including poultry, piggery and cattle and its associated products are imported In addition to the efforts by the government to develop viable and ecologically sustainable methods of farming to enhance production and address hunger … it is becoming increasingly important to revamp the Agriculture scenario in the state and make the sector an attractive and economically viable option for the educated youth in the rural areas.

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By EMN Updated: Nov 28, 2013 11:46:27 pm