Dimapur, March 11: With the aim to provide platform for all stakeholder viz. farmers, aggregators, entrepreneurs, processors, exporters and financial institutions to associate and network with each other to create long term linkages, a conference cum buyer-seller meet for agriculture and horticulture products with special focus on organic products of Nagaland was organized today at Hotel Saramati, Dimapur.
On the first day of the two-day event organized jointly by Department of Agriculture and Agricultural and Processed Food Products Export Development Authority (APEDA) saw the participation of a good number of farmers from the state as well as buyers from different parts of the country.
Speaking on the occasion, Y. Kikheto Sema (IAS), Agriculture Production Commissioner encouraged the buyers to get involved terming it a right time to invest and assured best cooperation from the side of the government.
Referring northeastern part of India as the “United States of Northeast Region” Sema said that the region is the organic hub that the country is looking for and with improving road connectivity, infrastructure and concern shown by the Government of India and PM Modi the scene is changing.
According to him, while it’s true that connectivity is an issue in the region, it is also true that the region shares borders to five countries and is the gateway to Southeast Asia. Pointing to the problem of land ownership and practice of jhum cultivation, which he said is neither economically viable nor ecologically sustainable, he said that the traditional system of cultivation cannot be stopped as its part of the culture and tradition and Nagas derive much of the folklores and folksongs from it. He, however, said that there is a need to revive water bodies and sources of water which is instrumental for the sustainability of agriculture.
He urged the buyers to give the best price to the farmers, defending that many of the crops grown in the state are of superior qualities. He gave the example of coffee grown in Nagaland saying that while the coffee was a failed crop here, its cultivation was revived in 2016 and it has been observed that while in general it takes five to six years for fruits, the plants grown in Nagaland yielded fruits within three years and are of superior qualities. He added that the coffee is now being exported outside the country and is hugely popular in South Africa.
He said that while at present coffee is being cultivated on 10,000 hectares of land, by 2030 the target is to produce it in 30,000 hectares. He also suggested in his speech that if it’s possible, just before the annual Hornbill Festival, such meets can be organized.
Earlier, Additional Director of the Agriculture Department S. Kivikhu Achumi giving an overview of “Nagaland Organic” mentioned Achumi said that at present, the department has 18 registered FPOs and FPCs under Mission Organic Value Chain Development for North Eastern Regions covering 13,000 hectares of land and to facilitate stronger marketing access under the ownership of Grower’s Organisation, the government of Nagaland had also registered the brand the name “Naga organic”.
He said that so far 6,000 hectares of land have been certified as organic and another 7,000 hectares are under second year conversion with compliance to national programme for organic productions by OneCert International Pvt. Ltd.
He also said that about 70 percent of the people in the state are engaged in agriculture and traditional farmers of Nagaland are organic by default. However, according to him, Nagaland needs better value chain management and improved access to markets so that the farmers could realise the potential of their produce and suggested that food processing is the need of the hour in order to make access to external markets.
Assistant General Manager of APEDA, Sunita Rai, who also spoke on the occasion briefed the attendants the functioning of the organization and how it facilitates the exporting of crops nationally and internationally. She said that the regional office of APEDA located at Guwahati is looking after all the Northeast states in this regard.
The two-day event will culminate on Friday with the buyers visiting the fields. On Thursday, samples of crops were also exhibited to the buyers at the venue. (Page News Service)