Sunday, July 14, 2024

Unexplored potential

No matter how far the impact of industrial revolution has travelled in our part of the world, our economy mostly revolves around the primary sector – agriculture. As stated by Nagaland Agriculture Minister during the inaugural programme of “Naturally Nagaland” exhibition held as part of the celebration of Azadi Ka Amrit Mahotsav commemorating the 75 years of Independence at the Agri Expo site in Dimapur on May 2, more than 70% of Nagaland’s population are still engaged in agri and allied sector. Chief Minister Neiphiu Rio has also been urging youths to foray into agri and horticulture sectors as it has huge potentials for employment and economic growth. Today (May 6) at a programme at Medziphema he again called on the youths to take training in agricultural allied sector and make themselves progressive modern farmers. In fact Nagaland is exporting some of the finest and most organic fruits and vegetables to different countries and continents but could not able to meet the demands since the production is not sufficient. Towards this end, the CM urged young entrepreneurs to make Nagaland self sufficient. The point is we may emphasize the use of modern technology, IT driven processes, and high end gadgetry, but the fact of the matter remains that agriculture forms the backbone of our economy. That simply means that if we have to strengthen our economy, our agricultural sector must be formidable. All our policies should focus on making this primary activity more productive, and more marketable. From preparing the ground to sowing the seeds, from nurturing the fields to marketing the yield, we need to introduce newer processes that involve up to date scientific research and high end technology. A place like ours, where as stated, more than 70% of the population is engaged in the primary sector, directly or indirectly, it can ignore agriculture only at its economic peril. Unfortunately today almost all cultivable land across our state is worsening with every passing day. Illegal felling of forests and subsequent erosions has changed the entire landscape and course of irrigation and drainage channels ultimately fading the soil and robbing it of its precious nutrients. Here reviving agriculture as major performer in our economy is a two way traffic, where both state and the farming community have to play their own role. The state government should do more work in the fields of research and technology, and also ensure coordination between lab and the land to make it more efficient. On the other hand farmers and their educated younger generation have to realize the vibrancy of agriculture sector as an enterprise; should practice it with remunerative endeavor and not a mere aversive compulsion for survival. Beyond scientific research and technology up-gradation, our agriculture sector requires modern economic and entrepreneurial interventions with liberal financial backing. The introduction of High-Yield and High-Density crops, the use of modern technology and laboratory tested pesticides and other measures, is a must for meeting this end. If the government, particularly, the concerned departments and agencies are really serious in achieving this target, it would need consistent inputs, and a purposeful focus. The institutions, like our SASRD Medziphema, need to play a lead role in this. If new farm practices, and modern machinery is introduced at mass scale, there is no reason why we can’t achieve the target of doubling the income of farmers. Clearly since most of our people are directly or indirectly involved with agriculture and its related sectors, we need to embrace agriculture as a profession and fulfill our responsibility to till our lands dutifully for our survival. Government needs to intervene in a more meaningful way, and at a larger scale. In Nagaland we can do it if there are some good interventions, and if there is consistent guidance available to our farmers, and also at the level of household, to grow organic vegetables. At the same time, there is need to educate farmers, and also encourage the educated youth to take up agriculture as a career option. If our younger generation, that is educated and exposed to modern ideas and practices, can really focus on their agricultural assets, and turn them into economically beneficial platforms, we can have a revolution at the most fundamental level of our society and economy. All it needs is a governmental focus at the top, and an involvement of new generation at the bottom.