Kohima: Experts now suggest that Nagaland, an agrarian state with about 60% of the population engaged in agriculture and allied activities, needs the adopt smart horticulture methods for a sustainable livelihood.

According to the dean of School of Agricultural Sciences and Rural Development (SASRD) Nagaland University, Professor Akali Sema, smart farming and climate-smart horticulture can help local farmers in increasing productivity and mitigate climate change at the same time.

Smart farming refers to the management of farms using modern information and communication technologies to increase the quantity and quality of products while optimizing the human labor required. Climate-smart agriculture (CSA) is an integrated approach to manage landscapes—cropland, livestock, forests and fisheries–that address the interlinked challenges of food security and climate change.

At a Horticulture conference in Kohima organized by the Department of Horticulture on Thursday, the professor, who spoke on the theme “Leveraging smart horticulture for sustainable livelihood and self-employment in Nagaland”, sought the intervention of the officers and employees of the department to mediate with the local farmers.

Citing how few educated farmers in Nagaland practice micro-green farming, hydroponic farming, and rooftop gardening, she urged the need to promote such farming ways even to the rural population. Notably, 71.14% of residents in Nagaland live in villages.

Another approach to smart horticulture, she said, is to turn waste to treasure. She emphasized on the importance of finding ways to manage wastes.

Although she shared about the need for farmers to use of Internet of Things (IoT), and Information Technology & Communication (ITC) in real time, she pointed out that basic technologies are not reaching the end users. Besides training the farmers, she said that basic technologies required should be provided to the farmers.

She also emphasized on the need for employees of the horticulture department to build a cordial relationship with the local people, particularly the farmers, even by taking the extra mile. The professor added that if some districts are not performing well in the sector, it is also the failure of the department.

The professor also suggested that real time data needs to be collected by the department for better planning on how to use smart technologies to address the poor market-linkage. She added that proper power supply, water supply and good internet connectivity, is also essential.

While Agri and allied sector in Nagaland are all working for a common goal–welfare of farmers, she urged the need for a convergence of activities in the sector. Citing the Cluster Development Programme (CDP), she said that all the concerned government departments should work together ratebr than trying to successfully implement a centrally sponsored scheme in isolation.

Underutilization of potential employees in Horticulture department

Commissioner and Secretary of horticulture department, Anenla T Sato, informed that there is an underutilization of many potential officers and employees in the department, which according to her is a “peculiar” problem.

To her, there is a need to revive the department and she suggested that employees make use of the conference to retrospect on their past performances, and at the same time brainstorm activities.

As horticulture has a huge potential in the state, she said that activities should be conducted proactively in a time bound manner to avoid backlogs as activities of farmers gets negatively impacted.

She added that the department can change the economic scenario of the state, and so with the changing times, the system also needs a change, and delivery services should be quick- both for farmers and the state government.

Scheme implementations in Nagaland lacking qualitative outcome

Advisor to Horticulture and border affairs, Mhathung Yanthan, shared on how schemes that are implemented in Nagaland lack qualitative outcome. This, he said, is because most schemes are implemented just for the sake of it.

In this regard, he said that the employees–the workforce behind, need for do justice to their profession as they carry a huge responsibility. He encouraged the employees to leave behind a footprint and never have regrets about not performing to the best of their abilities.

He also challenged them to keep pace with the digital world and have a creative mind, besides simply their discharging duties.

Highlighting about the lack of market linkage in the state, he said that the immediate need is to create a market infrastructure market tie-ups. As he advised the officers adjust with the changing world, he  advocated the use technological aid in carrying out horticulture related activities, and doing away with redundant activities or traditional systems that no longer works.

The politician suggested the need to find a signature crop for the state of Nagaland as there is a lack of signature crop. Like Sema, he also suggested thr intermingling of departments to carry out research and activities to ensure that farmers are largely benefited.

Sharing a concern of underutilization of funds under certain schemes, he said that the alloted funds should be utlilized to meet the actual target and goal. 

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