Kohima, December 5: “The fact that Nagaland obtained its first Soil Testing Laboratory after 57 years of Statehood shows the amount of neglect our soil has been subjected to,” stated Agricultural Production Commissioner, Y. Kikheto Sema IAS in his address at the celebration of World Soil Day, organized by the Department of Soil & Water Conservation at Hotel Japfii, Kohima on December 5.
Recounting his years of childhood with his parents who were also farmers, Sema said, “Since my parents were also farmers, I felt happy and excited to be appointed as the APC of Nagaland. Felt like I was in a position to work with farmers on a level to bring about a sense of organizational setup in the agricultural aspect of our land”.
Expressing that Nagas have misused our soil for too long, he shared his observation while on duty saying he was shocked to see that there is not even a simple scheme for soil management nor a seed bank.
Questioning the effectiveness of the many departments of Nagaland, 83 departments in total which is the second highest in terms of the number of departments a State has in India, he diagnosed, “there was no coordination.”
While lauding the effort of the Soil & Water Conservation Department for procuring the much needed Soil Testing Laboratory for Nagaland, he reminded all the departments that responsibilities will be entrusted to those that are willing to perform, he said.
The APC also questioned the absence of a single “Seed Bank” in Nagaland. He said, “Here, I think we have a lot of things to do in the days to come… for too long, we have been doing things in a scattered manner.”
Imploring on the lack of coordination between the state departments and its allied sectors, he pointed out “Agriculture, Land Resources and its allied sectors taking up projects individually is unnecessary wastage of time and has no impact.”
Stating that people are still inclined to do farming the primitive way, Sema suggested that it is time the people consider the economic potential in availing scientific progress and at the same time the various departments will coordinate to make the farmer feel secure and look at farming from a business standpoint.
He said, “While one department looks for water for agricultural activities, one department should be testing the soil, another department to research on what kinds of food to grow and another to set up the market chain to ensure a sturdy business model.”
Reiterating on the need to take on responsibility by every department, he requested all the Agri and allied departments to take the opportunity to play a vital role in Nagaland. “Now is the time for Agri and allied sectors to lead Nagaland toward achieving self-sufficiency while keeping sustainable development in mind,” he said.
Earlier, Minister of Soil & Water Conservation, Geology & Mining, NSMDC, Kashiho Sangtam said “I would like to urge all the Agri and allied departments to cooperate…. So your coordination and cooperation will be very much welcomed so that we can keep our soil alive and protect it for the generation to come.”
He also said that this year’s campaign “Keep soil alive, Protect soil biodiversity” urges us to focus our attention on the workers below ground from tiny bacteria to agile millipedes and slimy earthworms – all of which contribute to processes that are indispensable to life on Earth.
“The present biodiversity is a worry – and soil is also affected, soil is home to more that ¼ of our planet’s biodiversity,” he said. Yet, we only know 1% of this universe, there are more living creatures in a single teaspoon of healthy soil than there are people on Earth.
Sangtam also maintained that soil organisms are responsible for many critical ecosystem processes, on which humans depend.
He said, “From supporting plant growth, to storing carbon and being a vast reservoir for pharmaceuticals the soil is one important aspect of earth. Yet, soil biodiversity is under pressure”.
Stating that unsustainable soil management affects life belowground, Sangtam implored on the attendance to take action in order to protect soil biodiversity.
While acknowledging that the Soil & Water Conservation Department has been a forerunner in conservation of natural resources since its inception, he also emphasized that assessment of natural resources for its capability is of paramount importance in order to sustain and manage the environment and to enhance agricultural productivity.
“In order to achieve these goals, the government is implementing Soil Health Management (SHM) Scheme across the State on a mission mode through National Mission for Sustainable Agriculture (NMSA), which is under the Ministry of Agriculture and Farmers Welfare,” he said. He explained that these schemes are aimed at promoting crop specific nutrient management and its jurisdiction use.
On top of this, the idea of natural resources management which the Soil and water department has put forward several proposals to various Ministries, which is expected to get through, he said. (Page News Service)