The Need to Help Achieve Self-sufficiency
Even as the need to boost local entrepreneurship has became a hot topic of discussion among lawmakers, intellectuals and laypeople alike as uncertainty looms large over rising unemployment and supposed saturation of public sector jobs in Nagaland, it is strange that the state, though an agrarian economy with more than 60 percent of its population depending on agriculture, doesn’t produce enough agricultural products to meet the needs of the people, forget about exporting to other places. This strange crisis was exposed recently when onions brought tears to the eyes of the people in the state after its prices skyrocketed due to supply scarcity. As if that was not enough, tomato prices threatened to derail the household budget. It uncovered the underlying crisis- dependency of Nagaland on other states for even essential agricultural products like onion and tomato. Another instance is that most farmers from the state cultivate rice but people, especially those living in towns and cities are dependent on rice imported from other states. This applies to almost all food items, be it vegetables, fruits or spices. This is why even slightest price fluctuation of essential food items in other states burns a hole in common man’s pocket in Nagaland.
The state is blessed with rich vegetation and fertile land. A two-day orange festival was celebrated at Rüsoma village a few days ago and farmers were said to have benefitted by sealing the produce from their farms. It’s a fact that there are dozens of other food items that grow well in the state. Experts say that coffee produced in the state is one of the best in the world and is even exported to other countries. But ironically, the state depends on other states for such products. Its cultivation may have the potential to boost the economy of the state in a great way besides helping farmers build a sustainable livelihood but the state has a long way to go before it produces enough to meet its needs, forget about commercialisation.
In the meantime, it is encouraging to see young people taking up farming seriously. This trend will not only solve unemployment problem in the state but also help achieve self-reliance. Farmers should employ modern farming technologies and practices to produce on a large scale and make profit but avoid use of chemical fertilisers as it affects ecosystem and human health. It’s high time the state starts working towards attaining self-sustenance by empowering the farmers.