Wednesday, October 4, 2023

Organic Farming in Nagaland, Prospects and Challenges

Dr. Rakesh Kumar Chaurasia,
Krishi Vigyan Kendra, Zunheboto,
Nagaland University

Introduction: Nagaland, having a total land area of 16,579 sq km, is one of the hill States located in the extreme North- Eastern part of India with mountainous terrain richly endowed with natural resources. Nagaland is predominantly an agrarian State with 70% of its population engaged and dependent on Agriculture. The State is mostly mountainous, and has all the agro climatic condition i.e., temperate, sub-temperate and Sub tropical, which enables production of different types of crops. Traditional Jhum/shifting cultivation is being practised in the State due to topographical terrain where mixed cropping pattern is practiced incorporating cereals, pulses, oilseeds, tuber crops, condiments and spices using local cultivars which are organic in nature. The larger area under WTRC/TRC falls in the foothills of the State. Nagaland Economy is mainly dependent on agriculture. Organic farming can play an important role in improving productivity and have a huge potential in Nagaland.
“Organic agriculture is a holistic production management system which promotes and enhances agro-ecosystem health, including biodiversity, biological cycles, and soil biological activity. It emphasises the use of management practices in preference to the use of off-farm inputs, taking into account that regional conditions require locally adapted systems. This is accomplished by using, where possible, agronomical, biological, and mechanical methods, as opposed to using synthetic materials, to fulfil any specific function within the system.
Some of the organic inputs used in organic and integrated farming include, Farm Yard Manure (FYM), Compost, poultry manures, Biogas slurry, Animal droppings, Crop residue management, oil cakes, Sewage and sludges, Vermicompost, Green manuring crops, Biofertilizers (Rhizobium, Azotobacter, Azospirillum, BGA, PSM,) and different formulations of bio pesticides.
Prospects of Organic farming:
Nagaland, is having a total land area of 16,579 sq km, having a population of 19,78,502 (2011 Census) where agriculture play an important role and the per capita GDP is 133849 (Nagaland Statistical Handbook,2021). The average rainfall is between 175cm and 250 cm. Nagaland Economy agrarian based and more than 70% of the population is engaged in this sector. The Economy in the State of Nagaland is dependent mainly on agriculture and various kinds of crops cultivated like cereals and millets, pulses, oilseeds, sugarcane, potatoes, tomatoes etc. and many other high value horticultural and plantation crops. The traditional agriculture system in Nagaland is Organic by default and is very much similar to organic farming where farmers uses traditional wisdom for crop production and conservation of bio diversity. As per the information available about 13,500 hectares in 241 villages covering 13,500 farmers are involved in organic farming. In Nagaland, we have abundant organic resources like crop residue, water, forest litter, livestock, etc. which is very important for organic farming. Organic certification has already been taken up by the department and it is believed that more area will be covered for organic farming.
Geographical Indication Registration in 2008 for Naga King Chilli, the hottest chilli in the world has got GI tag of Nagaland and pineapples with the tag “Naga Pineapple” which is also the first crop to be branded in the whole of North-East States owing to its distinctive flavour and High Total Soluble Solids (TSS) ranging from 16.5 to 18%. Large cardamom, Tea and coffee plantation is also getting momentum. So many Central schemes have reached the State for promoting organic farming like National Project on Organic farming (NPOF), Mission Organic Value Chain Development for NER (MOVCD-NER), International Competence Centre for Organic Farming (ICCOA), Bangalore, etc.
Based on above facts, we can say that Nagaland have good prospects of organic farming as the State has a large portion of virgin land which can utilised for production of different crops. Even the agro-climatic condition prevailing in the State is very conducive for growing different crops like Kiwi and apple at high altitude, other fruit and crops at mid and low altitude. Moreover, the agriculture system is self sustaining with a good number of farmers are ready to adopt the Organic farming practices. The hilly terrain receive very high rainfall (2000 mm to 11000 mm per annum) and thus lead to abundant production of biomass including weeds, shrubs and herbs when a large part of the falls under pastures, forests, wastelands etc.
Challenges for promotion of Organic Farming in Nagaland
* Most of the villages are in remote areas and the farmers do not get easy access to advance technologies, transportation, market etc and crops are not grown in cluster.
* Availability of organic inputs on time and in required quantity as need by the farmers needs to be addressed properly and timely manner.
* Nagaland does not have proper of marketing, distribution network and price policy for organic inputs, though some initiatives have recently been taken up.
* Infrastructure facilities for undertaking organic farming in the state are lacking and there are very few agencies/ NGOs for accreditation and promotion of organic farming.
* Lot of technical knowledge regarding organic farming needs to be communicated to farming communities through training and demonstration.
* Financial institution for promoting Organic farming is lacking and there is a need for more support from the Government.
* Promotion of organic farming for export as well as for domestic consumption, needs appropriate agriculture policy of India and guidance.
As mentioned, Nagaland has a vast area and scope for utilisation of available land under organic cultivation. High value crops which fetches premium price in the market can be grown and adoption of Integrated farming models can help in maintaining the soil and getting better returns over the period of time. The government run programmes can play a pivotal role in increasing the area and adoption of new technologies in conjunction with organic farming techniques. The farmers issues needs to be addressed properly for supply of inputs, funds, infrastructure, cold storage, marketing etc. so that the continuity remains and state can lead in organic farming based products which will indirectly help in improving socio-economic status of farming communities.