Drought-like situation in Nagaland; deficient rainfall affects farming - Eastern Mirror
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Drought-like situation in Nagaland; deficient rainfall affects farming

By Reyivolü Rhakho Updated: Jun 17, 2021 12:05 am
Rain-fed paddy fields lie barren due to water shortage in Nagaland.

Our Correspondent
Kohima, June 16 (EMN):
Amid the second wave of Covid-19 pandemic, Nagaland is now faced with a ‘drought-like’ situation as the state is experiencing an erratic pattern in rainfall this year.

Addressing a press conference in Kohima on Wednesday, the Agriculture department expressed grave concern over deficient rainfall that is affecting farmers of Nagaland and sought the Centre’s intervention.

Agriculture Production Commissioner, Y Kikheto Sema said that with hardly any rain from December 2020 to April 2021, jhum cultivation has been adversely affected, leading to poor germination of crops.

About 70% farmers in the state are involved in jhum cultivation.

The areas affected by deficient rains amount to 68,662 ha. of jhum fields in 915 villages, affecting almost all the districts, Sema informed.

“Terraced rice cultivation (upland) and wet terraced rice cultivation has also been affected due to deficient monsoon rains in all the districts causing delay in land preparation and sowing. If the same trend continues till July, then the farmers may fail to undertake cultivation activities,” he warned.

Foreseeing the drought–like situation, the Agri and Allied department on April 27 deliberated in detail about measures to tackle the situation.

Accordingly, the departments had distributed seeds and planting materials for re-sowing in the affected jhum fields. However, even after that, it was not able to achieve the desired result due to the shortfall of rain.

The shortage of rainfall has not only affected the production of normal seasonal crops but also commercial crops like large cardamom, fruits and vegetables and other livestock such as fisheries, piggery etc., Sema said.

So far, 525 ha. of horticultural crops has been affected, he added.

Rice production expected to reduce by 70%

The quantity of rice produced in the state, which was 5.51 lakh MT in the year 2020-21, is now anticipated to reduce to 1.66 lakh MT in the current year, a reduction of 70%, if the present dry spell continues, the APC predicted.

With more than 70% of the state population dependent on agriculture for their livelihood, the damage is going to be huge.

This would require the assistance from the government of India to mitigate the situation arising out of rain deficiency, the official said.

‘Adding more to the woes, the situation in the agricultural scenario was further aggravated through infestation by fall army worm (FAW) during the last week of March, affecting 3048.45 hectares of maize crop covering 334 villages. Despite timely intervention by the departments, the FAW infestation could not be completely neutralised,’ he informed.

Director of Agriculture, Ben Yanthan informed that the FAW was first reported in the state on May 9, 2019 and had been occurring since then.

‘Unfortunately because of climate change, the infestation of FAW happened very early this year, by March end unlike previous years, that is May,’ he informed.

Farmers can expect it to happen next year as well, he said, adding that the department had already trained farmers to deal with the situation.

Rain-fed jhum fields lie barren due to water shortage in Nagaland.

‘FAW does not only infect maize but also vegetables and paddy,’ he said.

Plans to mitigate

To address the situation, the Agri. and allied departments plans to distribute seeds of potato, oil and vegetables for early rabi season from the month of September and October to compensate the farmers for the anticipated loss.

Further, a Core Committee of Agri. and allied departments headed by the APC has been formed to monitor and review the ground situation frequently as per the reports received from the field. All officers of Agri and allied departments have been directed to remain in station and closely monitor the ground situation.

‘People cannot only depend on primitive practices but also have to employ scientific ways of farming and educate farmers about it so as to address such situations in future. Everyone should give importance to water,’ he said.

Advisor of Horticulture and Border Affairs, Mhathung Yanthan assured that the state government was doing all it could to mitigate the situation.

‘To ensure that farmers are not affected, the department has introduced crops that are drought-tolerant and climate-resilient agricultural systems are being incorporated,’ he added.

‘Further, rain water harvesting is being adopted to address the issue. Drought cannot be fully prevented but through various innovative projects, it can minimise or slow down the worst case scenario processes,’ he informed.

The advisor further said that the Agri. and allied departments are taking experts’ views to address the situation.

‘Improvement in rainfall not sufficient’

Minister of Agriculture, G Kaito Aye said that this year’s weather is a little particular compared to other times and a drought-like situation might happen in the state.

Although there has been a little improvement in rainfall in the past few days, it is not sufficient as rivers and soil are drying up, he said.

He raised concern over terrace rice cultivation that is nearing off season.

‘If farmers are unable to cultivate paddy saplings by this month, it’ll be too late,’ he said.

A paddy fields in Nagaland.
By Reyivolü Rhakho Updated: Jun 17, 2021 12:05:06 am