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Nagaland CM moots for food self-sufficiency

Millets

GI registration process for 4 known varieties of Millets in State initiated: M Yanthan

KOHIMA, DECEMBER 2: Nagaland Chief Minister Neiphiu Rio while lamenting that despite being an agrarian State Nagaland is dependent on other States for supply of food grains and spices, today encouraged use of modern farming supported by scientific research and qualified persons to make it economically viable.
Naga society is literate and educated and has many technical and knowledgeable people in different fields but their knowledge is not being utilised to become progressive farmers, Rio said while speaking during the inaugural function of Millets Festival marking the culmination of International Year of Millets organized by Agriculture Department at Organic Pavillion in Kisama.
In the modern age, cultivation methods have to be upgraded to modern farming with technology and scientific research so that produce is economically viable, he said.
“Our indigenous farming is of diminishing return and therefore knowledgeable people with graduate or diploma in agri should come forward to take up progressive farming including agriculture, horticulture and veterinary”, he said.
Also saying that Nagas love eating meat more than any other produces, he encouraged the Veterinary and Animal Husbandry Department to encourage backyard farming for milk and meat sufficiency.
“In all sectors, particularly what we eat, we should try to become self- sufficient because as of now we are a consumer society and import everything”, he said.
About 70% of the populations in Nagaland are farmers but there is insufficient food grains so hope Agri and Allied Departments should encourage modern farming supported by scientific research and qualified persons to make it economically viable in all sectors, he said.
Rio also expressed hope that with the culmination of the IYoM would be good beginning and spread out the cultivation of millet with good seeds throughout the State.
He also informed that the State Government would be approaching the Central Minister for inclusion of Millets in supply of essential commodities, including spices for price stabilization so that millet farmers do not suffer.
With companies agreeing to come for millet contract farming in the State, we have to produce on a commercial scale and we need to have Minimum Price Protection for the farmers with buy back facilities, he opined.
Millets will open opportunities for our people and it is a challenge for all of us to give the best and help farmers grow, said Rio.
Advisor for Agriculture & MLA Mhathung Yanthan informed that the GI registration process for 4 known varieties of Millets in Nagaland, including the Foxtail millet, has been initiated.
Millets, once a forgotten crop, gradually found its place in Nagaland and from a mere 12,000 hectares, the cultivation has expanded to 19,000 hectares and it will continue to grow, he said.
The demand for millets in urban markets have increased manifold because of its versatility and nutritional value which has earned it the status of a super food, he said.
He also reminded the gathering that the Millets Festival is not only to showcase the diversity of the crop but also to highlight its culinary potential with purchase orders increased from buyers, with companies expressing interest in contract farming in Nagaland, indicating that millets are on their way to becoming a major crop in the State.
Faced with challenges of climate change and rainfall, Millet, a climate resilient crop, is the alternative for Nagas, he said.
North East Network State coordinator, Wekoweu Tsuhah said that NEN has been working towards sustaining and promoting millets-based agro-ecological farming systems by engaging with diverse stakeholders for the past 12 years.
“From when we started and now, we see a huge shift in the perception of millets amongst farmers, consumers, businesses and policy makers. Earlier referred to as ‘coarse cereals’ millets today are recognised as nutri-cereals and superfoods’; the once marginalized crop is today upheld as the most-sought after grains”, she said.
Such a shift has been the outcome of the long struggle of farmers, supporting organizations and institutions that fought for a dignified place for millets and whose voice our Government heard and made a concerted effort in taking millets to the global level – declaring 2023 as the International Year of Millets, she said.
Saying that Millets ensure livelihood security, she maintained that Millet-based agro-ecological farming systems provide employment for farmers as it involves cultivation, post-harvest management, processing and value addition, and marketing.
The occasion was also marked by the Chief Minister releasing the policy “Revitalising millets in Northeast India” brought out by University of Reading, UK & Himalayan University Consortium, Thematic Working Group on Mountain Agriculture.
The Chief Minister also handed over the following awards:
Village category: Best Millets village award to Chingmai village, Tuensang district (Rs 50,00 with citation); Excellent Millets award to Pessao village, Tobu Sub-Division, Mon district (Rs 30,000 with citation) and Good Millets award to Chipur village, Noklak district (Rs 20,000 with citation).
Self Help Group category: Best Millet SHG – Women Society Thuvopisu, Phek district (Rs 30,000 with citation), Excellent Millet SHG – Tse Badze, Chiechama, Kohima district (Rs 20,000 with citation), Good Millet SG – Millet Sisters, Meluri, Phek district (Rs 5,000 with citation).
Individual category: Best farmer – Chabao Hamlong of Tobu, Mon district (Rs 20,000 with citation); Excellent farmer – Senjang of Chingmei village, Tuensang district (Rs 15,000 with citation) and Good farmer – Shingnyoa, Chipur village, Noklak district.
Commissioner & Secretary, Agriculture, Sushil Kumar Patel delivered the welcome address while report on IYoM 2023 was shared by Joint Director, Agriculture, Ketsukha Kath and Director of Agriculture M Ben Yanthan tendered the vote of thanks.
Folk song by Old Phor village, Meluri enthralled the gathering.
(Page News Service)

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