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Nagaland

Off-season vegetable cultivation in the high hills

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By EMN Updated: Aug 05, 2013 3:09 pm
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[dropcap]V[/dropcap]egetables are so important for human being due to the fact that it contains fibers, minerals, various vitamins and antioxidants which protect us from a number of diseases and disorders. Owing to this quality vegetables are rightly called as ‘Protective Food’.  Nutrition Experts have recommended to eat 280-300 gms (Indian Adult) of different vegetables in our daily diet for good health. Besides being nutritious and low in calories, these foods have been associated with a reduction in the risk of cancer because of the various minerals, antioxidants and vitamins they contain. Eating of different vegetables is not only important for good health but its cultivation too is one of the most lucrative businesses because, it fetches income at the shortest period. The income generated from a unit plot of land when compared to other crops is much higher especially for some hybrid vegetable varieties the income is 10 folds more.
Keeping this in mind let me narrate the success story of vegetable cultivation on the high hills of Zhavame village in Phek district. Zhavame village is situated about 9 kms away from Pfutsero town bordering Manipur state. The village like all Naga villages is characterized by rough, rugged and undulating terrain. Agricultural farming can be practiced mainly on the narrow patches of terraced field. Permanent Terrace Rice Cultivation is predominant in the village, which is quite insufficient for the livelihood of the people. The villagers are hard working, innovative and hospitable. Zhavame people are the best manson artisans in the state, have the best technology in TRC and now they are one of the best vegetable cultivators too. The story that I want to tell is about growing vegetables on the high hills during rainy season, otherwise also called as Off Season Vegetable cultivation.

History and Adoption of Vegetable Village Programme:
History and Adoption of Vegetable Village Programme:

History and Adoption of Vegetable Village Programme:
Horticulture Department has evolved the policy of Vegetable Village Programme during 2005-06 under TM-NEH Scheme and it is still continuing in all the successful villages. The idea of introducing the Vegetable Village Programme by the department is that, villages located near the urban settlements will be selected to implement the programme and the vegetables produced in these adopted villages will feed the city dwellers. Thus the department has been assisting the selected Vegetable Villages in the state by way of giving different vegetable seeds twice a year. There are 4 such Vegetable Villages in Phek district and all the villages are doing well. However, there is always a winner and as of now the Zhavame Vegetable Village is the best in the district as well as in the state too.
The Success Story:
Horticulture Department has adopted Zhavame village to implement the Vegetable Village Programme in the year 2009 and as of now 550 families are cultivating different vegetables round the year assisted through this programme. Like all the other vegetable villages in the state the villagers are given seeds and other inputs twice a year. In 2012, the villagers cultivated different vegetables among which cabbage and potato was grown in large scale. They work very hard and thus the production was also very good. Cabbage, cauliflower, carrot etc are cool season crops and such vegetables are grown during winter in the plain areas and the produce is made available during the months of Nov-Feb. However, on the high hills where the temperature is moderate during summer months these cole crops can be successfully cultivated and the vegetables are available in the market from June-Nov. Irrigation is not a problem because of the monsoon rain and thus this cultivation system is known as “Off-season vegetables cultivation on the high hills”. Production of off season vegetables fetches much higher income and employment opportunity on the hills than any other activities. Let us examine the case study of cabbage and potato cultivation at Zhavame village under phek district.

Cultivation of Cabbage & Potato:

Cultivation of Cabbage & Potato:
Cultivation of Cabbage & Potato:

The age old traditional life style of the farmers in Zhavame begin with the cleaning, hoeing, harrowing and leveling of the TRC beds every year. However; these days after the terrace works sowing of different vegetable seeds commences in the new field after the traditional slash and burn. The farmers are now well synchronised with the TRC and vegetable cultivation (Agri-Horti-Farming-System) and thus after transplanting of paddy they begin the vegetable works.
After transplanting the paddy the villagers get enough time for other activities, so during this free period they are engaged in vegetable production. Last year cabbage was grown in about 18-20 hectares and has produced about 1672 tonnes of chemical free cabbages in the kharif season. Besides cabbage there was 170 tonnes of potato production and others vegetables like carrot, pea, knol khol, chow chow, etc is small quantities. The production of quality cabbage commences from the month of June till November which will be followed by the production of inferior quality and sizes till January. So the actual occupation of vegetable cycle is from March to January.
The achievement made by the village is unique and worth praising, the vegetable cultivation is not just an occupation but has become an Industry here. It has created job for many and the way they work is so regulated that now there are different categories of skilled workers designated for specific works. This is how the cabbage industry in the village has become successful. The women folks, young and old are responsible for the field works for producing the vegetables.  The healthy matured cabbages are harvested by a group of skilled harvester. The main task force in the entire industry is the packers and loaders. These highly skilled workers are the young men who are mostly drop outs. They are booked in advance by the growers and paid handsomely.  I asked one of this young men and he said that, he has read upto class 12 and instead of searching Government job he is working in the village. Like this young strong man there are many of his friends who have teamed up as the Packers & Loaders. This group of skilled workers can load 4-5 trucks with cabbage for which a single worker will earn about Rs. 300-350 per truck (Rs. 1200 -1750 per day). Some of the villagers are transport providers and market linkage provider. The farming activity in the village is also supported by all the out stationed students. During holidays these students help their parents in the field. To cite one, Joseph is a PhD. Scholar of Commerce under the NU; he told that he is proud to help his parents in all the agricultural works whenever he goes to the village. So the success is through community approach. Chairman of the Vegetable Village Committee Mr. Dukru Paul, told that, after the adoption of the programme there is no anti social menaces in the village because; all the drop outs are engaged in the Cabbage & Potato Industry all year round. He also proudly told that, his villagers can sustain for 4-5 months of economic blockade if imposed to the village. The whole system is a chain of producing-processing-marketing executed so well by one village where not a single produce is wasted during the whole chain. It can be analysed that, from a single commodity the whole community is benefited and the income is highly significant. The growers sell the cabbage @ Rs. 6/kg in the spot, the approximate wages for the harvesters/packers/loaders is Rs. 300-350/men and the transport providers also earn during the process of marketing. During last kharif season 1672 tonnes cabbage was produced which fetched about Rs. 1 crore 10 lakhs for the growers alone. The total income from the sale of different vegetables during 2012 was Rs. 1.54 lakhs. Mr. Dukru Paul told that, the highest number of trucks which left from Zhavame village loaded with cabbage was 11 truck loads in one day. As per an interview with the Vegetable whole sellers in Dimapur these vegetables are consumed in Dimapur, Kohima, Manipur and Assam.

Success Story of Ngapi Movi
Success Story of Ngapi Movi

Success Story of Ngapi Movi
Ngapi Movi lives in Zhavami village and his livelihood is TRC & vegetable cultivation. Before the adoption of the Vegetable Village Programme, his family solely depended on paddy (TRC) for his family livelihood. The knowledge of vegetable cultivation with assistance from the Department of Horticulture was learnt and he also ventured into the farming. He came to know that, venturing into vegetable cultivation brought a source of lucrative earning for the family and to his surprise his earning year by year has increased. Today he is happy that he earns Rs. 80,000 – 1, 00,000 from the sale of cabbages and potatoes annually. He is a father of five children.  Four of them are in college.  There are others who could construct a building or buy a plot of land in kohima or nearby town through the income from cabbage and potatoes. But being solely depended on his earning; he is pleased to see his children in college.

Scope for Cultivation of Off Season Vegetables on the Hills:

Scope for Cultivation of Off Season Vegetables on the Hills
Scope for Cultivation of Off Season Vegetables on the Hills

There are about 6-7 villages surrounding Pfutsero town which has an altitude varying from 1500 to 2200 msl. The whole region is characterized by rough, rugged and undulating terrain. Subsistence cereal farming is dominating in the entire farming system, which is quite insufficient for the livelihood of the people inhabiting this region. The terrain is also not fit for the intensive cultivation of agriculture crops due to high rate of soil erosion, instability and fragility of the landscape. Under such circumstances, cultivation of off-season vegetables can help for sustainable livelihood of the inhabitant and can provide more employment to the unemployed youth.
Since the introduction of Vegetable Village Programme (HMNEH) in the State by the Department of Horticulture, some areas are producing high quality and quantity of vegetables round the year. More than 10078 MT of vegetables are produced from these villages surrounding Pfutsero town every year. About 4031.2 MT is consumed and the remaining (6046.8 MT) is marketed to Dimapur and sold at the Vegetable Whole Sale Market (Sources; President, Phek District Farmers Union). Information from the Whole sellers at Dimapur is that about 3-4 MT of different vegetables were sent outside the state every day during the peak producing season last year.

Dr. Moa Walling
DHO, Phek

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By EMN Updated: Aug 05, 2013 3:09:34 pm