Kohima: In a huge boost towards achieving a self-sustainable economy through farming, a model of cluster Agri development called the ‘Naga-Integrated Settled Farming (N-IsF)’ is making its pace forward at Boke Botsa, about 40-km away from Kohima town.
An inspection of the site by Y Kikheto Sema, Agriculture Production Commissioner (APC) and his team of officials, has revealed that 161 fishery ponds have been built so far. 145 soil samples have also been collected by the concerned department for soil testing at the laboratory in Zubza. Although the model is at an initial phase, it will gradually be replicated in the other districts across the state.
Covering a total of 786.404131 acres of land, the N-IsF project is a business model that aims to revitalize the production system through integrated farming at the farmer’s field-level as a basic unit of production with linkage to the market. Simply, it means creating an ecosystem where farmers can engage in all kinds of farming activities and sustain a livelihood.
The farming activities will include terrace field cultivation, fishery, poultry and fodder, sericulture, floriculture, bee keeping, coffee plantation, composting, and so on. The total land cover includes 153.150371 acres of cultivable land agriculture for terrace farming, 10.341322 acres for banana plantation, 32.189881 acres for built-up settlement, 27.0596 acres of forest plantation, 559.952546 acres of open forest, and 3.710411 acres of water bodies (fishery pond).
A brainchild of the Strategic Committee on Economic Affairs, which was set up by the state government last year to formulate a detailed road map for economic development with special focus on Agri and Allied sector and entrepreneurial and skill training in the state, it is for the first time that all agri and allied departments are collectively working on a model project. The departments involved are Agriculture, Horticulture, Animal Husbandry & Veterinary Services, Water Resources, Nagaland Beekeeping & Honey Mission, Soil & Water Conservation, Fisheries & Aquatic Resources, Sericulture, Land resources, and Geographic Information System & remote sensing.
The chief minister during this year’s budget session had also stated that the Agri and Allied sector is going to be the most important aspect of its strategy towards achieving a self-sustaining economy. A total of Rs 975.74 crore comprising 4.28% of the total sector allocation was made for the agri and allied department for the current financial year.
Meanwhile, in an interaction with the media, Sema said that the model is not seen in other parts of the country as it was developed to suit the Naga farming activities. He said that the model was necessitated as most central policies and programmes are rolled out to suit the agricultural activities in the mainland areas.
While the cost norms also differ from place to place, he said the same yardstick cannot be applied to all. He said the integrated farming idea is aimed at doubling the crop and that even if one method fails, others can be practiced.
Traditional methods of agriculture will continue to be practiced. However, to enhance production, a value addition will be made where several training sessions will be imparted and seeds will be provided by the government. While the model projected is expected to take 2-3 years, Sema expressed hope that if the model succeeds, imports from outside the state can be limited or “blocked”.
Richard Belho, architect and consultant of the project said that the N-IsF project at Boke Botsa is a study model, under which agricultural activities will be aimed at inculcating a business culture with year-long production. He informed that proposals are also made to set up agri processing facilities at the site where farmers can come and learn.
Belho said the total 3D mapping was made to survey the area and assess which areas are a preferable type for various activities. According to the master plan, two commercial banks will be set up with one seed bank exclusively for preservation of traditional species. “We do not want the commercial plant to overcome what is naturally available,” he shared.
He added that the government plans to give enough infrastructure and facilities through settled farming methods so that all facilities will be made available in one area. Belho said the idea of settled farming is mainly to encourage the younger generation to take up agricultural activities.
A commercial unit in Botsa town by the roadside will also be built for the farmers to sell their produce. About 175 plots with 104 landowners and 145 farmers are currently engaged with the model project at Boke Botsa.
Additional director of soil and water conservation Kikheho Shohe said the production of goods at the proposed area can be enhanced by almost 40% of the current production if the soil health is maintained. He said the department has also been providing training to farmers in vermicompost.
Speaking about the project, Shohe said the integrated settled farming model will enable farmers in the state to take pride in working in the profession and exude confidence to the local farmers. He also added that it may also encourage the younger generation to take up farming and become proud farmers.
The local farmers, while interacting with government officials, expressed gratitude for the government initiative towards assisting farmers. Villagers at Boke Botsa formed a committee for the project to assist the government in implementing it.
The chairman of the committee has urged the APC for the smooth functioning of the project and to also guide and enlighten villagers with what may best benefit the farmers.