Farmers’ Cell-SASRD tour to Thonoknyu

A programme on Skill Building & Entrepreneurship Development was recently conducted on 6th & 7th November 2006 at Thonoknyu Township which is a Sub- Divisional Headquarter under Tuensang district. The programme was sponsored by DUDA, GoN and jointly organised by NIDC, Dimapur in partnership with Nagaland University, Farmers’ Cell, SASRD, Medziphema campus. Altogether there were 29 male and 12 female participants’; mostly unemployed youths as well as farmers from Thonoknyu town, Thonoknyu village and from 7 neighbouring villages namely, Peshu, Chilliso, Sanglao, Pang, Kenjung, Chiphur and Thoktsur. 

The entire programme was facilitated by the SDO (C) Mr. Akhup Thangsing who has been posted in Thonoknyu for the past 6 years as EAC and on promotion as SDO (C) and is one of the rare government officials who actually lives in this remote area on a regular basis and sees to the daily administration of the area under his jurisdiction.  

Thonoknyu is 420 km away from Dimapur through rugged terrain. There are approximately 200 households with a population of about 1200. It is inhabited by the Khiamniungan and Tikhir tribes. There is a BPO as well as a Community Health Centre and three schools – Government primary School, Thonoknyu Public School and Baptist School which cater to students up to the eighth standard. The lack of a high school is causing problems for the youths as they have to go to Tuensang for higher studies and many cannot afford to go there. However the SSA caters to 20 students. The electricity supply is rather erratic as there is only one transformer. There is also no piped water supply and the people fetch water from Khu Chek Hai and Jongjam Hai rivers. The only means of public transport are the Tata Sumo taxis (4) and one mini bus. The nearest market town is Tuensang which is 90 km away from where the people procure essential commodities and sell their produce such as soya bean, maize, taro, rajma (Kholar) etc as well as poultry. 

The recreational facilities for students are almost nil and the only football field that they have can accommodate only 9 players instead of 11. The student union president Mr. Emung Khiamniungan expressed the need for a Youth hall, a students’ union office, indoor stadium, telecommunication facilities and most importantly for a high school as many lives are spoiled when their education comes to an abrupt end due to financial constraints.   

Thonoknyu town is almost cut off from the rest of the world as there are no telecommunication facilities and the CIC centre was destroyed in 1996 during factional fights. The people have access to DD1 and around 26 households have televisions and about 7 households subscribe to Nagaland Post which comes 2 days late. 

The DUDA sponsored programme was the first of its kind in this area and the feedback from the trainees was that such programmes should be conducted for more days and on a regular basis as they learnt many new innovations from the demonstrations and hands on practical conducted by Farmers’ Cell, SASRD, Nagaland University and gained much needed relevant information from the lectures by NIDC officials. There was immense interest in the training on Piggery Management, Mushroom Cultivation, Home Scale Preservations and Nursery Raising. Many of the female participants expressed the desire to learn more about setting up Self Help Groups. It may also be mentioned that Maize Sheller and a variety of vegetable seeds were distributed to the trainees.

The facilitators of Farmers’ Cell, SASRD, Nagaland University observed that the lack of awareness is the main cause for concern. The livestock even within the town is allowed to roam free and it was gathered that almost every year swine fever occurs causing harm to humans and the lack of medicines and medical attendants etc compounds the problems. The alder trees grow in the wild but due to lack of awareness and knowledge the benefits of alder based jhum cultivation is not known.

Thonoknyu village which is located approximately 1 ½ km away from the town is situated in an area that offers scenic beauty enhanced by the flower gardens in almost every household profusely growing a variety of flowers. The vegetable and fruit gardens also thrive well with a variety of fruits and vegetables growing. Due to the terrain only jhum rice cultivation is viable but the potential for floriculture and vegetable cultivation on a sustainable scale is immense as the soil is fertile and climatic conditions ideal. 

The potential of the area need to be assessed properly and the resources tapped so that viable economic growth can be promoted on a sustainable level so as to improve the socio-economic conditions of the people. It may be recommended that awareness and training programmes be conducted on a regular basis by concerned governmental departments as well as NGOs; especially pertaining to indigenous piggery and other livestock management, poultry management as also disease management of livestock, alder based jhum cultivation, floriculture and vegetable cultivation, sanitation & health measures etc. More education and awareness programmes on small scale business ventures is also required so as to open the minds of the people, particularly the youths, about establishing their own businesses and taking control of the market within their area. As of now all the petty shops (10 in number) in Thonoknyu town are run by non locals. 

The roads and transportation services requires immediate attention if the area is to be developed and made into a viable economic zone. The lack of basic infrastructure is another stumbling block. Therefore to create the environment for feasible economic activities in agri-business, for which there is immense potential, the critical requirements are to be met first and the challenges ahead entails a multi-prong approach from all appropriate departments.      

The team was led by Mr. K. Haralu, Director, DUDA, GoN, and the facilitators for the technical sessions were Mr. Kevin Zehol, Under Secretary to the Governor, Nagaland, Mr. B. Longkumer, G M (Promotion & Development), NIDC, Mr. N. Shohe, G M (Loans), Mr. K. Nakhro, Manager (Legal) NIDC, Mr. Temjenyanger Jamir (Asst. Manager) NIDC, Mr. Anil P. C. Raven, Manager (Projects) NSTFDC, New Delhi. The facilitators from Farmers’ Cell, SASRD, Nagaland University, were Dr. J. Longkumer (Coordinator), Dr. Pauline Alila, Dr. Nizamuddin, Mr. Tongpang Longkumer and Mr. Temjenmenba.

Dr. J. Longkumer
Coordinator, Farmers’ Cell
SASRD, Nagaland University