Back To The Land: Finding Ways To Self- Employment

(L) Some members of the Healthy Harvest team at work. (R) A section of the farm in Aliba village, Mokokchung. (Photo Courtesy: Healthy Harvest)
(L) Some members of the Healthy Harvest team at work. (R) A section of the farm in Aliba village, Mokokchung. (Photo Courtesy: Healthy Harvest)

Limasenla Jamir 
Mokokchung | January 8

In a generation where many young men and women may not consider farming as a profession, a group of six young men, who call themselves ‘Healthy Harvest’, took full advantage of the pandemic and started a farm in Aliba village, Mokokchung.

“The desire to start a farm was often discussed but we had no time to put our thoughts into action. When the pandemic hit and movement was restricted, we saw an opportunity to realize our dream. We also saw a disturbing trend of cellphone addiction and many educated unemployment youths settled in the village. Therefore, we thought we could use this time as an opportunity to set an example too,” said one of the member when asked about the genesis of the ‘Healthy Harvest’ project.

Healthy Harvest members Moatemsu, Imkongkumba, Imkongneken, Temsuyanger, Benjongwati and Waluniba are all in their early 30s, and they are also graduates and above. They strongly believe that agriculture will play a very strong role in pushing Nagaland’s economy forward.

Sharing a common interest in farming, they started by cultivating vegetables on a large scale during the lockdown. “We do plant a lot of crops but our two major crops would be broccoli and papaya,” the members shared.

“When we started the project we had zero help but as soon as ATMA, KVK, and the Horticulture department in Mokokchung learned about our project, they provided us with some packets of seeds and timely advice and training.

Without these help, we probably wouldn’t have progressed this far”, they said.

“We also received a major chunk of help from Health Agro Agency, Kohima in providing seeds and also machineries,” they shared, while adding that, “We have not been directly endorsed by any department or project, but we have been mentored.”

Healthy Harvest are now in the process of harvesting their vegetables. They grow other vegetables as well, but broccoli and papaya are the major crops grown. “We give our produce at whole sale rate to vegetable vendors in Mokokchung. A major chunk of sales during the holiday season was done at the farm itself as many people from all over Mokokchung district came to see the farm and also to buy the vegetables. Going forward, we will be linking with more private players in other districts for further market reach”, they said when asked about how they plan on selling their produce.

Talking about the challenges they face as nascent farmers, they said that the major challenge at the moment is the absence of an active power line which will help boost productivity. “We manually water our farm which is very time consuming. We are in need of an automatic sprinkler system which will help solve the problem. We also do not have a vehicle to carry our produce to the market and we start producing vegetables in bigger quantity, we would require market linkage too,” they shared.

Healthy Harvest project’s immediate plan is to clear another acre of land and plant chilli and tomato as the main crops for summer. “By the time we finish planting these two crops, it will be time to harvest and sell papaya,” they added.

Encouraging their peers, Healthy Harvest said, “Do not wait for everything to be streamlined before you do something. If you are interested, start small but start today. Additions and changes can be made later. Hard work and consistency is the only way.”