Future lies in horticulture, not govt. jobs, entrepreneurs told
Kohima, Feb. 6 (EMN): Commissioner and secretary to the Government of Nagaland, Department of Horticulture, Y Kikheto Sema said that 80 per cent of the Naga population, mostly farmers, lives in rural areas and they still practice primitive way of cultivation “like our forefathers”, with no income even after working in the paddy fields all year through.
Sema was speaking at the Hortipreneurs Meet on Marketing of Horticulture Produces, organised by Department of Horticulture at Hotel Japfu, Kohima on February 6. He suggested that farmers start growing horticulture crops which are sustainable, ecologically friendly and economically viable instead of growing only rice.
He asserted that, in Nagaland, there is less scope for large and medium scale industries because of the geographical and topographical condition but horticulture goods are the only hope, citing examples of how Nagaland coffee is doing very well and rated as one of the best coffee in the world, drawing demands from countries like Japan, Korea, Thailand and others.
Sema informed that coffee alone has covered 8000 hectares of land and the government plans to cover at least 30,000 hectares within the next five years, which will create employment and improve the economy. “When it comes to government jobs, we have reached ‘Line of Control’ (LOC) as Nagaland is considered to have the highest government job in India and the only scope to give employment opportunity is through horticulture,” he stated.
He asked the entrepreneurs and officials present at the meeting to work out budgeting of fruits and vegetables in the state and find out the places where various products grow best. He added that Nagas tend to get carried away by what others do without proper study and analyses.
Sema asked agricultural department, RD and horticulture department to coordinate and interact with the farmers and work for better results. He further informed that the department is working on the identification of crops to know what varieties are sustainable and can be marketed.
“We are blessed with fertile land but we are lazy,” he stated.
He informed that the department will request the government to provide dryers for fruits and vegetables at least one in each district so that the quality of the products will improve, followed by good packaging. He added that the department has met up with the railway and airport authority and they are willing to provide a bogie of 18 metric tonnes per day and Air Indigo is making a facility to reserve 2000 kg per day besides a counter to store the products.
Reminding the need for consistency, as things won’t work if the people export products one day and stop the next day, he asked the entrepreneurs to come together and discuss what products can be exported after finding out the market. He also requested the department officials to meet the entrepreneurs from across the state and listen to their problems and difficulties and find out the steps needed to be taken up to will improve the status of the farmers in villages.
Sema opined that womenfolk work more than men in the fields and also ell their produce on the streets and markets, saying: “While travelling around the state, I see most of the vendors are mothers.”
Director of Horticulture and Mission Director (MIDH) R Elithung Lotha informed that India produces 314 million metric tonnes of horticulture which surpasses agricultural produces which stands at about 287 million metric tonnes.
India is the second-highest producer of fruits and vegetables in the world with 10.5 per cent of the world’s total fruit production and 11 per cent of the total vegetable production in the world. He said that today, horticulture products are available everywhere across the state but lots get spoiled, incurring lost to the farmers.
“The market in Nagaland is still weak but this issue needs to be resolved and therefore the meeting is to discuss things to improve the condition of the market, traders, farmers,” he said. He also asked the entrepreneurs to share their experiences and open up their problems so that the department can take them.