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Nagaland pushing for self-sustenance through NISF

By Reyivolü Rhakho Updated: Mar 21, 2021 10:40 pm
members of Boke-Botsa
Y Kikheto Sema along with agri-allied department officers and village leaders at Boke-Botsa on Saturday, March 20. (EM images)

Our Correspondent
Kohima, March 21 (EMN):
Nagaland is aiming towards a self-sustaining economy a few years down the line through an innovative model of cluster agri-development called Naga Integrated Settled Farming (NISF).

The project is being implemented first at Boke-Botsa, which is about some 36 km from state capital Kohima. The project is currently at its initial stage and would take two to three years to complete. The same model would be replicated in other districts once the project becomes successful.   

The agri-allied departments led by Agriculture Production Commissioner Y Kikheto Sema visited Boke-Botsa on Saturday and interacted with village leaders, farmers and landowners. 

The Agri-allied departments including Agriculture, Horticulture, Fishery, Land Resources, Water Resources, Veterinary and Animal Husbandry, Soil and Water Conservation, and National Beekeeping and Honey Mission are involved in the new model farming.

While giving an overview of the master plan to the project, Sema informed that the whole area of the project is 786 acres. The total area includes a terrace area (cultivable land) of 153 acres, built-up-settlement with 32 acres, forest plantation of 27 acres, forest open of 559 acres, water bodies-fishery pond of  three acres and agriculture-banana of 10 acres. There are about 104 landowners and 145 farmers, he said.

He said that they want farmers to widen their activities from terrace cultivation to multi-cropping where value addition is taking place. Farmers can always engage in livestock activities and other cultivations post and pre-harvest. He encouraged farmers to opt for multiple cropping so that sustainability can be assured even when one crop fails to yield. 

“One of the main intentions of the project was to attract educated youths to go back to the farming profession. At the same time, it will be kind of a settled model farming township and we expect that there will be a migration-taking place,” he added.

“Since it is model farming, the departments are giving the landowners/farmers a hand-holding share initially, but we are not going to pay them anything except the actual amount. Rather, they should be grateful to the government for developing their land and providing them with technology inputs,” he added.

The departments will initiate similar projects in other districts if the Boke-Botsa model is successful, the APC said.

He stated that the government was looking at a ‘holistic change in totality’.

With the NIsF in place, it is looking at generating income, livelihood, sustainability and employment to the youths. Further, the state can stop importing vegetables, livestock and farm produce, from other areas. He expressed hope that the state would be able to sustain itself without depending on other states in the near future.

“This NIsF is the first of its kind and is not available in other areas. Once it becomes a success, the same model could be adopted throughout the north-eastern states and the few Himalayan states,” he shared.

“It is impossible for the government to provide agri-link roads to each village of the state but if the agri farm is within one cluster area such as Boke-Botsa, then the government should be able to provide an all-weather road,” he added. 

Architect and consultant for the project, Richard Belho said that this was the first time that all departments in Nagaland were coming and working together. The Boke-Botsa model will be a test model for the government as well as the people of Nagaland. 

He maintained that the settled farming is mainly to encourage the younger generation to ‘come and settle at the site and do the farming themselves’.

“Since this is going to be a model farm, we want villagers from all over Nagaland to come and see,” he added.

While giving an overview of the project’s master plan, he said that two seed banks would be set up at the site –commercial nurseries and preservation of traditional species. He added the seed bank for preserving traditional seeds was specially designed to avoid commercial seeds overcoming the naturally available seeds.

They are also proposing to set up agri processing facilities, farmers’ dormitories where they can stay and learn required training at the site itself, he added.

The consultant further said that one of the main aspects of sustainability is that ‘there has to be maximum circulation of money within this area.’

“Therefore, V&AH department who will engage in piggery but pig feeds will be manufactured at the site itself. It is also looking at manufacturing mustard oils, Belho said.

As for human resources, he said that they are trying to be careful not to over plan things where they hire people from outside.

“It has to be sustainable and we should be able to draw human resources from here (locals) only and let them work on a voluntary basis.

Additional director of Soil and Water Conservation, Khekiho Shohe, informed that the department was working to improve the soil health so that farmers can go for multiple cropping instead of one.

“If soil’s health is maintained according to the soil condition, then the production will be 30 to 40% more than the existing production. At the same time, the nutritional values will be higher, he informed. This is because the department is maintaining micro nutrients as well as facilitating bio-fetilisers for macronutrients,” he said.

He also informed that the soil sample of 145 farmers at Boke-Botsa is being collected and tested at a soil laboratory in Zubza. The results would soon be given to farmers so that they can have an idea about which crop to sow and what to avoid.

Further, the officer said that a full-fledged testing laboratory for soil at Zubza would be inaugurated soon. Besides, there are three mobile testing labs as well as 74 blocks that would soon be receiving mini-laboratories for soil testing.

Stating that youngsters in the state were ashamed to address themselves as farmers, the official called upon the young people to be proud to be a farmer.

Director of Fisheries, Kevisa Kense informed that 161 fishery ponds were dug (free) at Boke-Botsa by the department as part of the integrated farming project. He added that the department would do its best to provide assistance for the farmers. The officer also informed landowners/farmers to approach the department freely if there was any issue with the project.

The state government has allocated a total budget of INR 975.74 for Agri and Allied sector for the current financial year (2021-22).

By Reyivolü Rhakho Updated: Mar 21, 2021 10:40:54 pm