Introduction Nagaland emerged as a separate State, carved out of the Naga Hills districts of Assam and North Eastern Frontier Agency (NEFA) province in 1963. The State has a population of 19.89 lakh with an area of 16.8 thousand Sq. kms as per the 2001 census. It has 11 districts and 52 blocks covering 1286 villages. There are 11 DRDAs and 1083 Village Development Boards (VDBs). The density of population is low at 120 per sq.km. Rural population constitutes 82.26% and urban population 17.74% of the total. Overall literacy ratio is high at 67.14%. Though Nagaland has heavy rainfall, it lacks adequate water storage facilities. This infrastructure limitation leads to greater challenges in bringing more areas under irrigation. The average net area irrigated to total crop area is low at 43%. This indicates that 57% of agriculture is being carried out under rain-fed irrigation condition
Agriculture is the main occupation of the people of Nagaland. About 65% of the population depends on agriculture as per 2001 census. Shifting (Jhum) and terrace cultivation remain the dominant form of the land use pattern of the State. Jhum cultivation has been devised over generations and terraced rice cultivation has been practiced for decades. Rice cultivation is mostly done in the plain area of Dimapur, Wokha, Mokokchung and Mon districts. Government of Nagaland has promoted terracing as an alternative to jhum cultivation. Use of technological innovations in terms of improved seeds, fertilizers and better implements has been limited. The level of fertilizer consumption in Nagaland was 4 kg/ha of net sown area. This practice of harmonizing with nature and influence of environment has enabled Nagaland to experience and explore organic farming practices.
Till recently, for most farmers horticulture has been mainly a backyard activity as they are generally busy throughout the year in cultivation of food crops and have little time for development of horticultural crops on a commercial basis. Besides, due to the long gestation period involved in plantation and horticulture crops, the cultivation of these crops has been generally confined to small backyard gardens developed by almost every
household. It is only in the past decade that there has been a more focused attention to the development of horticulture in the State. The plantation and horticulture sector plays an important role in the development of the rural economy of the State. The diverse agroclimatic conditions, varied soil types and abundant rainfall prevailing in the State enables the cultivation of several plantation and horticultural crops covering fruits, vegetables, spices, flowers, mushrooms and medicinal and aromatic plants. The geographical conditions offer tremendous scope for horticulture development in the State.
Coverage of Horticulture Crops
The total area covered by horticulture crops has been estimated at 36177 ha (2006-07) which represents 9.95% of the gross cropped area (3.63 lakh ha). The State produces 1.57 lakh MT of fruits, 1.40 lakh MT of vegetables and 0.08 lakh MT of plantation crops. The State has about 58370 ha. under culturable wasteland and 157210 ha. under permanent fallow of which an estimated 29000 ha could be developed under horticultural crops. In addition to this, with proper exploitation of potential surface water resources, about 10% of the additional area brought under irrigation could be devoted to high value horticultural crops, vegetables, etc. Based on the elevation, both sub-tropical fruits such as pineapple, banana, citrus, guava, etc. and temperate fruits such as plum, peach, pear, passion fruit and various nuts have potential for exploitation. Important among the vegetable crops grown are potato, cassava, colocasia, cabbage, cauliflower, peas and cucumber while ginger, chillies, cardamom, garlic, black pepper make up the major spice crops. Amongst the
plantation crops, areca, coconut, tea and rubber offer the best potential for cultivation on a commercial scale. Among the fruit crops, pineapple, mandarin orange and passion fruit are already being produced on a commercial scale. Based on climatic suitability, topography and market potential, the Horticulture Department has identified the following crops in Nagaland for commercial development:
Potential Crops in Nagaland
Fruits: Passion fruit, orange, pineapple and banana
Vegetables: Cabbage, peas, onion and potato
Flowers: Gladioli, roses, lillium, orchids and anthurium
Spices: Ginger, cardamom, turmeric, and Black pepper
Medicinal & aromatic plants: Patchouli, neem, agar and ginsengPlantation crops: Areca, coconut & cashew
Source Dept of Horticulture, Govt. of Nagaland
Programmes for Exploitation of Horticulture Potential
The Department has chalked out various programmes for the promotion and exploitation of the vast horticultural potential in the State. The Department has set the targets for development during 2006-07. These include
(i) cardamom/Cashew nut in 120 hectares,
(ii) Spices etc. covering 500 hectares,
(iii) major horticultural Crops – 800 hectares,
(iv) Olericulture – 600 hectares,
(v) Aromatic & Medicinal Plants – 80 hectares and
(vi) Mushroom – 20,000 spawn
Areas for Focused Development
(i) Fruit crops– As per latest available data (2006-07) the total area under fruit crops in the state was 16532 ha with an annual production of 157038 MT. These include both temperate and tropical fruit crops. The Horticulture department has identified pineapple, orange, passion fruit and banana as the fruit crops for commercialization. The area and production of these crops (2006-07) is as under:
Area and Production under Major Fruits Area in ha Production in metric ton( MT)
Orange -3015 -27790
Banana -2900- 33352
Pineapple -3005 -45075
Passion fruit -680 -4760
Total -9600 -110977
Source—Dept. of Horticulture, Govt. of Nagaland
It may be stated that the above fruits together cover about 58% of the area under fruit crops and contribute 70% of the total fruit production in the State. With the thrust of the State Govt on promotion of these crops, more areas are being brought under systematic cultivation of fruit crops especially pineapple and passion fruit. Production of these crops has also increased tremendously over the past few years. Industrial houses like Dabur and ITC have evinced interest in procuring these crops for processing. The Department should take the initiative in working out tie up arrangements with these industrial houses to ensure proper market linkage for the produce.
(ii) Spices Development—
Among the spices, ginger, garlic, black pepper, cardamom and chillies are the main crops for development. The growths of such crops are due to favourable agro-climatic conditions. Field surveys indicate that farmers are cultivating ginger and chillies on a large scale due to their commercial value and guaranteed markets..
Further, to commemorate the year (2006) as the ‘Year of Farmers’ the State Govt. implemented a yearlong calendar of events for giving focused attention to these crops.
Distribution of seeds to farmers and making buy back arrangements were some of the initiatives undertaken. During 2006-07 there was a record production of ginger at 13818 MT all over the State cultivating in an area of 1130 ha. The productivity of ginger in the State is 12228 kg/ ha which is almost four times higher than the National average of 3391 kg /ha. About 7500 ha was under spices cultivation and production was to the tune of 52709 MT.
The State has proven potential for production of high quality tea grown on different altitudes on commercial basis both in the hills and foothill areas adjoining Assam. The State Agriculture Department (nodal agency) has identified approximately 9800 ha of land spread over all the districts of the State for the development of tea on a commercial scale. At present, about 750 ha. of land is under tea cultivation. The estimated production during 2002-03 was 2900 MT. Due to the fragmented nature of holdings, tea plantation in Nagaland is basically a small planters’ crop. This may be taken up on a compact area basis covering 500 ha. or more, over a cluster of villages. This may help in processing of green leaf by installation of a factory and allied facilities on a cooperative basis. Till sufficient production is achieved to establish a full-fledged factory (normally 3 years), the producers may dispose off the green leaves to the nearest tea estates in the neighbouring tea districts of Assam. The lack of processing facilities, high cost of labour, absence of skilled manpower and the existing land ownership systems, pose some constraints. The number of small tea growers in the state has been gradually increasing and more and more farmers are developing tea gardens. A number of small tea growers have been financed in the Mokokchung district during 2005-06. Other potential districts where tea cultivation can be promoted are Wokha and Mon. The Agriculture Department has also been encouraging interested growers by granting subsidy, supplying planting materials and technical support. The quality of tea produced is of a high standard. Given the right impetus, tea plantation in the State could develop into a major economic sector. Being a high investment activity, institutional credit assistance to small tea growers assumes significance. Banks need to come forward for financing this activity.
Rubber is a rain-fed crop and can thrive well even in marginal soils with suitable agro-management practices. Rubber cultivation is possible in the foot hills where the land is denuded on account of absence of tree cover and excessive jhumming practices and is left fallow without any economic activity. A group approach in the development of rubber plantation can be taken up in a compact area. At present over 2000 ha of land are under rubber cultivation. To actively promote rubber cultivation in non-traditional areas, the Rubber Board provides financial assistance to rubber planters to the tune of Rs. 26,000 per ha. The Board also extends technical support and organizes exposure visits to rubber growing States like Tripura and Kerala.
Recognizing the potential for the development of this activity on account of the favourable agro-climatic conditions prevailing and the availability of an assured market, the Horticulture Department had launched the scheme for mushroom cultivation since 1980-81. Mushroom spawns are produced by the Department and made available to interested growers at nominal rates. District level training programmes are conducted on a regular basis to impart training to prospective growers. As the income generating capacity of this activity is tremendous, the thrust should be on providing of regular training and easy procurement of spawn to the interested growers.
Processing and Value Addition
Although fruits such as pineapples, guava, oranges, passion fruit, etc. are produced in fairly huge quantities, the production period is rather short and seasonal. The lack of post-harvest technology and storage facilities; inadequate transport and communication and absence of proper marketing and infrastructure facilities has further hampered the growth of this potential sector.These factors often result in localized gluts and consequent price falls/distress sales by growers. The best option available is to process and produce value added products like juice concentrates, canned juice, slices, dehydrated products, jams, etc.
A multi-product based facility, which could process pineapple, citrus and other fruits like bananas, papaya etc are considered ideal for better capacity utilization. The only existing State run fruit canning factory located at Longnak, Mokokchung district has a capacity of processing 1 MT of fruits daily. Similar units need to be established in areas with high fruit production. Production of value-added products like dehydrated ginger, chillies, washed and waxed ginger, are other potential activities that can be undertaken in the State.
Medicinal and Aromatic Plants
The State is rich in bio-diversity. The peculiar climate of the region with gradations from humid alluvial valley through evergreen forests to the snow line produces an immense variety of flora and fauna. There are evergreen forests with dense floor cover of herbs and shrubs. Many of these herbs and shrubs have medicinal or essential oil bearing properties, which are either unutilized or inadequately utilized. In its efforts to initiate farmers into alternative farming practices that promise better economic returns, the State Government has identified a few medicinal and aromatic plants for commercial development. Citronella, patchouli, lemon grass, geranium, agar and ginseng are some of the plants identified for commercial cultivation.
(i). Cultivation of Citronella–
Citronella is an important medicinal and aromatic plant. It is being extracted on a commercial scale in the State. Java citronella is the best source of citronella oil. Production of geranium oil, citronella oil, hydroxyl citronella are other similar high value perfumery bases. The oil is widely used as starting material for various aromatic chemicals in scented soaps, sprays, deodorants, detergents, polishes and in mosquito repellant creams. The oil is in great demand in the country. The Regional Research Laboratory (RRL) at Jorhat in Assam was the first agency to initiate the process of citronella cultivation in the State after it set up an experimental-cum-demonstration unit at Yaongyimsen village in Mokokchung district in the early seventies. Farmers identify it as an attractive and more remunerative alternative to shifting cultivation and brought more and more areas under citronella cultivation. The first two distillation units were set up by the RRL, free of cost. Subsequently the Department of Industries, Govt of Nagaland came into the picture and has since then taken the initiative in promoting the activity. The successes of RRLs efforts in Yaongyimsen village were replicated in other parts of the State. In the processes, more areas have been brought under citronella cultivation. The Horticulture department of Nagaland has also started commercial cultivation of citronella.The Land Resources department has also been promoting its cultivation amongst the farmers in its project areas. A number of entrepreneurs and NGOs are also engaged for commercial cultivation of citronella grass.The Govt. of Nagaland in association with RRL Jorhat has planned to arrange large-scale citronella cultivation and extraction of oil. Seven private growers from Dimapur and Chumukedima of Nagaland have started cultivation of citronella grass in 2006-2007
(ii). Cultivation of Lemongrass
Oil from lemongrass is the main source of synthesizing Vitamin A. The technology was released by RRL to farmers in the State in 1980 and within a short span, a number of farmers have taken to cultivation of this grass. RRL has launched promotional activities for cultivation of this plant species in Nagaland and has motivated more farmers for commercial cultivation of this grass.
(iii). Patchouli Cultivation-
The agro-climatic conditions of Nagaland are favourable for cultivation of Patchouli. The oil of Patchouli (Pogostemon patchouli) is used in highgrade perfumes. It has strong fixative properties and thus promotes tenacity of a perfume. This high value plant species has been introduced into the State as an alternative commercial crop. This crop has generated a lot of interest amongst local farmers some of whom have taken up commercial cultivation of this crop. Most of the growers are based within Dimapur district. Distillation plants are also coming up as commercial ventures in a number of locations .
(iv). Ornamental Plants/Floriculture
Floriculture has emerged as a major diversification option in the agri-business in recent years. The product wise groupings under floriculture are cut-flowers (fresh), bulbs and tubers, live potted plants, dried plants, dried flowers, etc. Floriculture has the potential to contribute substantially to the growth of the agriculture sector in the state. The State Horticulture department, has identified a few flowers for commercial production with an eye on the export market. Lillium, anthurium, carnation and Roses are the identified flowers.
Commercial production of rose and lillium has since started and the same are being exported to both domestic and foreign markets. Accordingly, a number of flower growers have been given the requisite training for commercial production of these flowers. Necessary backward and forward linkages have been created / initiated by the Department to ensure viability of these units. The districts of Kohima, Mokokchung, Wokha and Dimapur have been selected for commercial production of these flowers based on their accessibility and agro-climatic suitability. The market for cut flowers is increasing with a parallel demand for potted plants, foliage, etc.
(v). Commercial Nurseries
There is good potential for establishment of commercial nurseries for production of planting materials for horticulture crops, plantation crops, flowers, medicinal and aromatic plants and decorative plants. One of the major constraints in horticulture development in the State is inadequate quality plant material especially for fruit and plantation crops. Commercial nursery units are viable and highly profitable and private entrepreneurs in the State can promote such units.
The Centrally sponsored ‘Technology Mission for Integrated Development of Horticulture’ being implemented in NER provides funds for bringing additional areas under various horticulture crops. Nagaland receives its share of the funds for integrated development of horticulture in the State. These funds also include development of infrastructure facilities such as market sheds, community tanks, etc. Besides the funds have also been utilized for establishment of nurseries at different locations in all the districts to cater to the demand for quality planting materials.
IMPORTANT HORTICULTURE PROJECTS
Floriculture Project at Satsuphen, Wokha
A floriculture project at Satsuphen, Wokha has been a grand success. The entrepreneurs, Kaka and Brothers have been harvesting their liliums and lilium of the Longsa Flower Growers’ Association, had set a record of sorts in 2008 when a batch of lilium plants reached 7 feet height and had caused quite a stir when exhibited at Delhi. At Mokokchung there is a low cost lilium project at Chuchuyimpang that was competently managed by two men. There were no flowering plants inside the nursery as all the flowers had been harvested. The Self Help Group lilium project at the Hospital Colony, which showed a good example of plants being grown in different phases so that harvesting could be organized all year round.
Model Floriculture Centre for Roses and Carnations
The Model Floriculture Centre for Roses and Carnations at Yisemyong covers an area of about 38 acres of land. The Centre is a producing world-class quality roses which are in high demand in the national and international market. In order to meet the market demand, the Horticulture Department is setting up 17 more units of high cost green house for roses in Mokokchung and Kohima. Yisemyong, situated at about 900 metres above sea level with favourable climate conditions is suitable for cultivation of roses and carnations.
The Department incurred an overall expenditure of Rs.1.25 crore for setting up this Model Floriculture Project.“Circus” and “Grand Gala” are some of the world-renowned varieties of roses grown in this centre. The more mature rose buds are individually covered with “bud nets” to control and protect the quality of the buds There are eight varieties of carnations. These are “Accardi”, “Master”, “Schabert”, Diena”, “Star”, “Varna”, “Dalila”.
This Model Floriculture Centre is equipped with its own “pharmacy (for roses and carnations). At Kohima, there is also a Floriculture Project named Niathu Garden. The State Department provides Lilium bulbs in batches, so that the project gets flowers all round the year. The same project was also implemented in Chumukedima, Dimapur, covering an area of 4000 sq.m. It has around 40,000 Anthurium plants having eleven varieties. The flowers beds are filled with coconut bits, charcoal and bricks while nutrients needed by the plants are fed through irrigation system.
Niathu Gardens exports about 5000 stems of flowers in a week to Delhi and the price ranges between Rs.15 to Rs.25, depending on the size of flowers. At Sovima, one may visit a member of Blossom Florist, Akruzo Putstire, who is the biggest Anthurium grower in the State, if not in the whole Northeast. It was interesting to learn that this lady left her Government job to take up floriculture on a full time basis. She shared her experiences and said “Giving employment to many young boys and girls, widows, matric drop -outs remains my greatest satisfaction”. Presently she has employed 15 persons, 7 females and 8 males. She also opined that she remains at peace with nature and earns in a dignified manner by growing flowers. She also added that that “sincerity and dedication are the qualities which a farmer should possess.”
Passion Fruit at Wokha and Vegetable Village Project at Longkhum
There is a passion fruit ark near the Hume Pipe Industry area at Wokha. This farm has become a successful model for other passion fruit growers and the State Horticulture Department brings farmers to this project from other districts to learn from this project. There is a Longkhum vegetable village project at Mokokchung district. The project is producing a large volume of tomatoes. There are three varieties of tomatoes such as NSK, PUSA and AV-2. Besides tomatoes, the villagers are also cultivating chilies, maize, cucumber, cabbages and potatoes. This vegetable project is successful with the active participation of 92 households, aided by the State Department. Horticulture Technology Mission, Ministry of Agriculture (Horticulture Division) ,Government of India, sponsors the Aliteru-Lu Project at Mongsenyimti village of Mokokchung district. The total project covers an area of 100 acres and is currently under mixed cropping with the long-term target of orange plantation in about six to seven years.
Banana Project at Jotsoma and Pineapple Growers Society at Molvom Village and Dimapur
There is a Banana project at Jotsoma, which covers an area of approximately 15 hectares of land. The project was started in 2006 under the Horticulture Technology Mission. Before going in for plantation, the Department provides to the beneficiaries appropriate training and technical backup, following the Mission mode. The Department provides 1000 plants for every hectare of land and provides only good quality plants that have commercial value.
The Molvom village is also considered as the ‘Pineapple Growers Society. About 350 to 400 hectares of land is under pineapple cultivation, which is being developed under the Horticulture Technology Mission. The total estimated income in a year is approximately Rs.50 to 60 lakhs. More than 100 households are involved in the Growers’ Association.
The economy of the people of Molvom village solely depends on this particular crop and the villagers are responsive, consistent and dedicated. Yet, the lack of an assured marketing outlet remains an area of serious concern to the farmers. To be economically sound the produce should be marketed on commercial basis. The State Horticulture Department provides the technology, imparts training and takes the farmers for exposure trips., which help them to learn from each other through interactions. The formation of Producer Companies and Farmers Association to handle the problem of sorting, grading, packing, transportation and selling, needs to be explored
The large-scale cultivation of flowers, fruits and vegetables transform the lives of the people of Nagaland. Nagas have always had a fondness for growing flowers, though it is only in recent years that people are taking up growing of flowers on a commercial scale, funded under the Horticulture Technology Mission. Nagas experience a “labour of love” for tending to the flowers rather than strictly for commercial gains. When just a few years ago Nagas were importing flowers from outside, Nagas can now take pride in the fact that their high quality home grown flowers are finding a market outside the State. Depending on the performance of the growers, beneficiaries are also given integrated components like vermiculture units and farm handling units, besides water tanks. The projection of Nagaland as a large scale producer of flowers, fruits and vegetables for internal/external consumption has been a big boost to the rural economy and it is now necessary to encourage floriculture and horticulture on a commercial basis with State Government help and to form Producer Companies and Farmers Association, to assist in marketing of perishable goods.
By Dr K.G.Karmakar, Managing Director and
Dr G.D.Banerjee, Deputy General Manager, NABARD, H.O, Mumbai