Forward and backward market linkages top priority
Kohima, July 24
[dropcap]D[/dropcap]espite the noteworthy performance in production of food grains in recent years, Nagaland continues to be in deficit in food production with major commodities like rice, wheat, pulses etc being imported from other states. This was stated by Parliamentary Secretary for Agriculture Dr. Benjongliba Aier while addressing the inaugural programme of the two-day State level Agriculture Officers Conference 2013 at the Capital Convention Centre here today.Stating that food grain production in the State during 2012-13 was about 4,05,000 MT against the required 5,84,000 MT, he said the challenges ahead of the department is to have sustainability and competitiveness, and to achieve targeted production of 32,40,000 MT of food grain at the end of the 12th Plan from the current 24,93,000 MT during the 11th Plan. In the year 2012-13, there was shortage of 1,79,000 MT in food grain production against the requirement in the State.
He said in order to have impressive growth rate in food grain production, there should be improvement in productivity rather than increase in the area.
Stating that the tremendous scope and potentiality for agriculture development in the State can be one of the alternatives for reviewing the economy of the people in Nagaland, he maintained that if proper attention is given, Nagaland can become the agricultural bowl of the North Eastern region. Explaining that in the past agriculture farming was practiced for the basic need of food alone it is now a major employment sector driving the economy, to alleviate poverty and self reliance.
He said in order to have impressive growth rate in food grain production, there should be improvement in productivity rather than increase an in the area of farming.
“It is better to use fertilizers to keep the plant healthy than to use plant protection chemicals which are health and environment hazards,” he said while adding that in order to achieve this, there is need to practice the ‘Integrated Nutrient and Pest Management System in the food grain production programme’.
Dr Aier also stressed that every effort should be made to generate inputs and build up the complete network of support service within each agro-climatic zone for sustainable and widespread development of agriculture.
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He also stated that it was time to re orient the state’s plans of achieving economic development by building infrastructures, roads, bridges and a few small scale industries The time has come to now determine how food production could be increased through higher inputs.
Also observing that marketing linkages and infrastructures in the State are very poor and poor farmers are left at the mercy of the middlemen, who always have their own decision to fix the prices, he felt that with no proper decision on State’s food policy, there is an urgent need for an all round development especially in the field of marketing systems boost the rural economy in the State.
He advised the department officials to undertake measures to improve infrastructure, marketing networks and post harvest facilities to elevate productivity and marketing of different crops in the State. Besides, he suggested the need to train more departmental field staff on subject matter and location specific trails in farmer’s field for adoption of various techniques.
The Parliamentary Secretary also presented the Nagaland Agriculture Awards during the inaugural function. Citations and cash awards were presented to two best progressive farmers from every district. The Nagaland Agriculture Awards were also awarded to the best SDAOs and equivalent, AOs, Agriculture Field Assistant, best Agriculture village of every district and Award for best establishment.
Presenting the keynote address Director, Agriculture, EH Lotha said during the attainment of Statehood Nagaland food grain production was only 63,000 MT. The 2012-13 figures show that the food grain production is now 5.98 lakh MT, which is an achievement, he added.
He also said the department has implemented Central, NEC and State plan schemes to help farmers and also increase food production. He challenged the officers of the department to work together in achieving the 2025 vision of “Food for All”.
The programme was chaired was by Agri Secretary, N. Benjamin Newmai while Additional Director Agri, I. Panger proposed the vote of thanks.
The two-day conference will deliberate on programmes & schemes of the department, achieving production target, farm land utilization status, manpower status & suggestion for improvement and review of programme implementation PPP.