A journey across Horticultural boom in Nagaland

Dzüvinuo, Ruopfülenuo & Lolano
A DIPR feature

A group of Media persons from Kohima, accompanied by officials from the IPR Department visited projects of the Horticulture Department of Nagaland in Wokha and Mokokchung districts from 28th – 29th June 2007 and again on 3rd July visited some projects in Kohima and Dimapur.

Led by Deputy Director, Horticulture Department, Watienla Jamir, the team witnessed first hand the large scale cultivation of flowers, fruits and vegetables that is transforming lives of the people.

Labour of love:
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. As it was made apparent during our interactions with the growers, it was more a ‘labour of love’ tending to the flowers rather than strictly for commercial gains. When just a few years ago Nagas were importing flowers from outside, we can now take pride in the fact that our 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.

Our first visit to a floriculture project was at Satsuphen, Wokha. The beneficiaries, Kaka and Brothers were harvesting their liliums when we reached the nursery. We also visited the lilium project of the Longsa Flower Growers’ Association, which had set a record of sorts last year when a batch of lilium plants reached as high as 7 feet tall, and which had caused quite a stir when it was exhibited at Delhi. At Mokokchung we visited a low cost liluim project at Chuchuyimpang, competently managed by two men. We learned that it means ‘good news’ when there are no flowering plants inside the nursery as it means that all the flowers have been harvested. Our next visit was to a Self Help Group lilium project at the Hospital Colony, which showed us a good example of plants being grown in different phases so that harvesting can take place year round.

Our team also visited the Model Floriculture Centre for Roses and Carnations at Yisemyong. Covering an area of about 38 acres of land, the Centre is 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 Crores for setting up this Model Floriculture Project.

‘Circus’ and ‘Grand Gala’ are some of the world renowned varieties of roses grown in this Centre. Much to our delight we saw that the more mature rose buds have been individually covered with ‘bud nets’ to control and protect the quality of the buds. We counted at least ten men and women, hard at work tending to the rose plants. There are also as many as eight varieties of carnations  including ‘Accardi’, ‘Master’, ‘Schabert’, ‘Diena’, ‘Star’, ‘Varna’, ‘Dalila’, ‘Madam Collete’ grown at this Centre. We were told that about 30,000 rose plants and around 20,000 carnation plants have been planted this year.

This Model Floriculture Centre is equipped with its own ‘pharmacy’ (for roses and carnations) and also features the Drip Irrigation Machine. We developed goose bumps when we went inside the Cold Storage chamber that was set up by the Rinac India Limited Company. Maintained at a minimum temperature of 2 degree Celsius and a maximum of 4 degree Celsius, the packaged plants can be stored here for a maximum of 10 to 15 days after being professionally and skilltAt Kohima, while interacting with R. Beilie Angami and Eduzu Chakhesang, beneficiaries of Kekhrie Floriculture Project, situated below Avilie Petrol Pump, Kohima, along the NH 39, we learned that the Department provides Lilium bulbs in batches, so that they get flowers all round the year.

Another project which our team visited was Niathu Gardens , Chümukedima, Dimapur. Covering an area of 4000 sq. m it has around 40,000 Anthurium plants in as many as 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, our team visited a member of Blossom Florist, Akruzo Putsüre, 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 full time. Sharing her experiences with the visiting team she 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 we remain at peace with nature and earn in a dignified manner by growing flowers, adding “Sincerity and dedication are the qualities which a farmer should possess”.

Reaping the fruits of success:
We visited a passion fruit farm near the Hume Pipe Industry area at Wokha. The elderly farmer, one Ezanbemo Murry, patiently explained how the vines have to be managed, so as to give maximum yield. Watienla told us that this farm has become a successful model for other passion fruit growers and the Department had brought in farmers from other districts to see it during the recently conducted Farmers’ Exposure Trip.

Proceeding on to Mokokchung district our team visited the Longkhum vegetable village project, which is producing a large volume of tomatoes. We were told that there are three varieties of tomatoes such as NSK, PUSA and AV-2. Besides tomatoes, the villagers are also cultivating chillies, maize, cucumber, cabbages and potatoes. This vegetable project is successful with the active participation of 92 households, aided by the Department. “The total number of tomato plants planted this year is about 7 lakhs”, said the Project Chairman, Aren.

The team also visited Ali-teru-Lu Project at Mongsenyimti village under Mokokchung district. The project is sponsored by the Ministry of Agriculture, Horti Division, Government of India, undertaken by the Horticulture Technology Mission. 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.

The team also visited the Jotsoma Banana project, 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 the right training and technical backup, following the Mission mode. The Department provides 1000 plants for every hectare of land and provides only good quality plants which have commercial value.

Our next stop was at Molvom village, also considered as the ‘pineapple village’. Chairman, Molvom village Pineapple Growers Society, Letthang said that around 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 and 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, marketing outlet remains a serious area of concern to the farmers. “To be economically sound our produce should be on commercial basis, yet marketing linkages and bad road conditions hampers everything”, expressed Lalkhomang, a pineapple grower.

Dimapur District Horticulture Officer, Dr. Elithung informed that samples of Kew variety of pineapples has been sent to Hyderabad where reply is awaited. Regarding the road condition, he said that the Department has taken necessary measurements and that the matter is with the Horticulture Ministry, Government of India. The Department provides the technology and training, besides taking the farmers for exposure trips so that the farmers learn from each other through interactions.