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Nagaland state not capitalising on its potential — Yanthan

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By Thejoto Nienu Updated: Aug 27, 2021 12:38 am
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Mhathung Yanthan, Y Kikheto Sema, Dr. R Elithung Lotha and other officials of Horticulture department in Kohima, on Thursday. (EM Images)

Our Correspondent
Kohima, Aug. 26 (EMN):
The advisor of Horticulture and Border Affairs, Mhathung Yanthan, on Thursday said that the state was not capitalising on its potential and called for efforts to achieve food self-sufficiency and economic returns.

He was addressing the flagging-off programme of winter vegetable seeds distribution to identified villages as part of Covid-19 post pandemic economic recovery activities under North Eastern Council (NEC) 2020-21 and Mission for Integrated Development of Horticulture (MIDH) 2021-22 at the Directorate of Horticulture in Kohima.

Yanthan lauded Horticulture department officials for timely procurement of the winter vegetable seeds, saying that it had gone the extra mile to procure the seeds ‘though there was no sanction but anticipating it’. This, he maintained, was to ensure that the seeds reached the farmers on time as it was a time-bound activity.

He said that the procurement and distribution of vegetable seeds was the brainchild of Chief Minister Neiphiu Rio, who ‘realised the plight and need of the farmers to have sufficient food supply for the people of the state’.

Meanwhile, the advisor observed that some Nagas have the ‘habit’ of wanting to receive things for free, saying that ‘some raise hands on anything that are free or demand even if they didn’t need it and would not put it to good use’.

In this regard, he told the department officials to look into it to ensure that vegetable seeds reach the most deserving farmers in the state.

He also advised the people to take up farming as a business venture as well as an enterprise while saying that farmers should call themselves as “entrepreneurs”. He stated that people would have to adapt to changes from traditional to profitable farming as it would attract more farmers and inspire more people to take up farming.

Towards this, he told the department to actively extend its services to the farmers and urged the officers and frontline staff to provide technology to the farmers.

The seeds should not be distributed for the ‘sake of distribution’ but should ensure that it reaches the farmers as well as provide proper guidance and supervision for good dividend, he said.

Poor marketing strategy

The advisor lamented that the local products were being marketed by people from neighbouring states and not by the people of the state. In this regard, he called for efforts to disseminate information about the availability of facilities and urged people to take advantage of the same.

He opined that despite the state producing enough marketable surplus, market linkages were not properly organised. While stressing on the need to focus on post-harvest technology as many products often go to waste, he pointed out the need for making proper assessment of what is being produced, whatever is marketable and how to channelise the market.

“We should be handling at least 500 metric tonnes by now but we have handled only about 7 metric tonnes, and even that 70% is through the department, and that also the department had done on a promotional basis which is not really for business ventures. We have not really taken advantage of the facility that has been created,” he pointed out.

Yanthan urged the people to make concerted efforts to promote ‘Nagaland products’ with coordination, irrespective of the department, while citing the initiative of Air Cargo that has been put in place six months ago.

He informed that flight charge for products from Nagaland to Delhi was INR 41 per kg, and INR 24 to Kolkata. He said there was possibility of decreasing the rates even further if a request is made, and also pointed out the possibilities of exporting to any destination in the country through railways.

Nagas aren’t committed

“Nagas are not really enterprising, and are not really sincere and committed,” said Yanthan.

He further urged the people of the state to take up employment opportunities and identify the potentials and facilities that are available instead of waiting for government jobs.

Meanwhile, Agriculture Production Commissioner, Y Kikheto Sema said the Agri and allied departments were not halted by the pandemic but were instead ‘on the job’. He informed that many officials had succumbed to the disease in the line of duty while working for the farming community.

He highlighted how the line departments were on the job, realising the threats farmers in the state were faced with- drought-like situation and Fall Army Worms (FAW) attack.

Following a series of meetings, it was decided to distribute rabi seeds to the farmers early.

The official urged the department to extensively reach out to the various villages by identifying the villages that were yet to be benefitted.

Sema also stated that the government cannot afford to provide seeds all the time, while saying that the Agriculture department and the Focus-iFAD would also be distributing seeds. He said that it would reach out to all the villages in the state.

He told the farmers that they would be able to get some remuneration out of it by selling and also for their own consumption.

He said that there should not be dearth of vegetables in the state hereafter and appealed to the believers of the state to pray for the farming community.

Farmers in 170 villages to benefit

Director of Horticulture and Mission Director of MIHD, Dr. R Elithung Lotha said in his introductory remarks that the department had been unceasingly working all through the pandemic and had not sat idle despite the vulnerable situation.

Meanwhile, the department informed that farmers of 170 villages would benefit from the distribution.

Various vegetable seeds ranging from cabbage, broccoli, potato, cauliflower, lettuce, chilly, onion, beetroot, beans, carrots and peas were distributed during the flagging off ceremony of seed distribution programme on Thursday.

It stated that under the NEC project for the year 2020-21, it aimed to provide quality vegetable seeds for whole year cultivation and identify 100 vegetable villages, including 10000 households and covering all the 11 districts of the state.

It was informed that under MIDH during 2021-22, 1000 Ha area would be covered under vegetables, wherein villages adopted as ‘vegetable villages’ by the department would be supported with seeds for both kharif and rabi seasons.

“So far, there are over 70 vegetable villages covering all the districts, including the youngest district of Noklak. The concept behind these ‘Vegetable villages’ is to increase the quantity of vegetables produced so that there is marketable surplus which can contribute to increasing the income of the villagers by way of sale of the vegetables while also contributing to their nutritional security by ensuring availability of vegetables for their consumption,” the department stated.

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By Thejoto Nienu Updated: Aug 27, 2021 12:38:29 am