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Kohima, July 31: The Union Government has announced unlock 3.0, but Nagaland Government is likely to tighten its grip, and its impact on progressive farmers is expected to flatten the State’s economy index further.
In the midst of pandemic crisis and the State Government’s efforts to keep citizens safe, there are noises surfacing from agricultural sector over the impact of the lockdown. Farmers insist that the lockdown is threatening the agriculture sector as it overlaps with the time of harvest.
The Government apparently is in a dilemma though Chief Minister Neiphiu Rio recently said the Government’s thrust area during this time of pandemic crisis will be agriculture and allied sector. For this, the Government has constituted two Strategic Committees on Economic Affairs.
Sources said total lockdown of Kohima and Dimapur has compounded the already deteriorating economic condition of farmers during the peak harvesting season.
Entrepreneurs Associates (EA) said the total lockdown of Kohima and Dimapur has hit hard the farmers, as these two towns are major commercial hubs of the State. These towns are also catering to farmers’ economy of Phek, Wokha and Peren to a great extend. The EA said initial phase of lockdown also had some affect on farmers as they could not go to fields for cultivation. But lockdown during the crop harvesting season has huge impact on farmers.
In Nagaland, March and April are months for sowing of crops.
“Many farmers could not do plantation during the months of March and April which was peak plantation season and it had an impact on production,” said a members of EA. He informed that villages on highways have been affected as they mainly depend on roadside markets to sell their produces.
In May, farmers in some districts suffered a loss due to heavy rain accompanied by hailstorms, where around 522.45 hectares of crops were damaged. As per the field reports from the Agriculture Department, a total of 522.45 hectares of agricultural crops were damaged with 9 out of the 11 districts being affected.
Zunheboto district recorded 212.5 hectares’ damage of maize, kholar, potato, cucumber and watermelon. Kiphire district record 182 hectares damage of maize, kholar and potato; Tuensang district with 59 hectares damage of potato, cabbage, kholar and maize; Kohima district with 20 hectares damage of potato, maize, jobstear, cabbage and carrot; and Longleng district with 18.5 hectares damage of paddy, maize and vegetables.
Dimapur recorded 12.45 hectares’ damage of maize, tomatoes and vegetables; Mokokchung district recorded 9.6 hectares’ damage of paddy, maize and vegetables; Phek district reported 8 hectares’ damage of maize, bean and cabbage, and Peren district had 0.4 hectares’ damage of maize.
During the period of lockdown, according to study and assessment carried out by the EA, Zhavame village in Phek district has so far estimated loss up to Rs. 1.5 crores for cabbage farmers during the countrywide lockdown.
Cheichama in Kohima district is a progressive village where varieties of crops are cultivated to sustain livelihoods. Agro based women entrepreneur like Keizotuonuo produce and sell cucumbers generating revenue of up to Rs 13,000 to 14,000 during peak season has dipped to Rs 3000. Similar is the story for other farmers.
In order to mitigate the losses and flattened economy of farmers, the EA has suggested for installation of cold storages, and encourage entrepreneurs to build stronger, more efficient and professionally managed supply chain & logistics. “This sector will require a short term subsidy so that the product pricing of local vegetables becomes competitive enough to be able to sell at cheaper rates than imported ones,” EA said. It further suggested creation of online farmers markets in Kohima and Dimapur to sell products to wholesalers, retailers, etc, in bulk which can later be sold in physical farmers markets after lockdown. (Page News Service)