People of Nagaland may have started planting coffee several years ago but the concept of commercialising it is very young. It appears like the trend of agricultural firms dying out after an initial craze has discouraged the people of the state from venturing into a similar sector. The fact that there is not a single agricultural product that Nagaland is known for outside the state despite being an agrarian economy speaks volume. The state produces rice, vegetables and several other agricultural items but it hardly meets the needs of the people; forget about exporting to other states. While there are may be some items being exported in patches, coffee is perhaps one of the first agricultural products from the state to be exported beyond the shores, that too of significant quantity and not a one-time affair. What might have appeared like a dream a few years ago has become a reality with Noble Cause Company having started exporting Nagaland coffee to South Africa. Dr. Pieter Vermuellen of the company has revealed this year would be the third time that 11.5 MT of harvest from Nagaland will be exported to the country. He is of the opinion that coffee project has the potential to boost the state’s economy, improve the living standards of the people, and help build a sustainable long-term economic development for generations as it can generate income between 30-50 years.
Nagaland coffee has come this far because of the persistent support from the state government, especially the Land Resource department. It would not be easy to convince the people of the state to take up what appears like an uncertain project that takes up to five years before it is ready for first harvest, but the department has done it convincingly. Today, several districts from the state produce coffee and the farmers are slowly beginning to enjoy the brew through the income they get from their produce. Secretary of Land Resources department Y Kikheto Sema had said earlier last year that the department aims to develop 50,000 hectares of coffee cultivation in the state by 2030. The target may look stiff but it’s not unachievable. Lack of market knowledge — one of the main reasons for agricultural farms in the state to vanish — has been solved today, and this will take away insecurity that has been blocking the minds of the farmers. Now that the psychological barrier is broken and the people have started sensing the potential in this sector, many may take up coffee farming and the recent positive developments may encourage the current cultivators to expand their farms. The state government still has lots of work to do as quantity is vital for business to survive in the global market. Consistent support is indispensable for the next few decades to make coffee one of the pillars of the state’s economy. Scientific methods of cultivation, pest management and other knowledge required to maintain a coffee farm should be imparted to the farmers as drop in yields can have a huge impact. Once it becomes an industry, it will help eradicate poverty, relieve over-reliance on government jobs, generate employment both direct and indirect, add revenue to the state and create self-sustaining economy. Lot of things can happen over a cup of coffee.