‘Lockdown: A great opportunity for change’

Officials from the Department of Land Resources during their visit to Vibeilietuo Kets’ Coffee Farm on June 26. (Morung Photo)

Officials from the Department of Land Resources during their visit to Vibeilietuo Kets’ Coffee Farm on June 26. (Morung Photo)

Vishü Rita Krocha
Kohima | June 28

Growing up poor, Vibeilietuo Kets did not have it easy even as he recalled that, “living on rent in Botsa as a student, I did not have any mattress. Every night, I would get an NST bus seat to sleep upon with books as my pillow.” This was when he pursued high school from Botsa, some 12 kilometres away from his native village, Gariphema where he lived with a few friends on rent, who were clearly better off than him.

“Our place was near the NST Bus Station and every morning, I would rush back to return the seat,” he recollected. As a child, he was eager to go to school but as the eldest in the family, he was also expected to babysit his four other siblings, and if he failed in that aspect, his father would beat him. “There were days, I would accompany my parents to the fields, and on the way, I would bail out just to go back to school,” he related.

He clearly remembers how his father used to say, “If you fail in class, you will be farming all your life”—a common threat that parents used in those days to motivate their children do better in school. It would not have crossed his mind then that he would later become a strong advocate of “farming”, inspiring people to become more self-reliant through it.

However, his father also became more supportive as he made it to higher classes. When he got to class 9-10, he was already doing part-time jobs to look after himself. “I would look for small supply works from offices nearby and have supply items delivered,” he put across.

His association with contract works had already begun then. Today, Vibeilietuo Kets is a Class I contractor, with at least 30 years of experience in the field. During the course of his professional journey, he had also realised the need to change the society with deep conviction.

“Even if I garner enough wealth for myself, that is not going to change the society”, he expressed. This was when he strongly felt the need to promote “farming”, a long tradition of the Nagas, where, he said, anybody can fit in. This is one of the ways, our people can change, he further conveyed. He has been instrumental in instilling a growing interest in farming among the people in his village and neighbouring areas for the last several years.

‘Lockdown: A great opportunity for change’
In the wake of the COVID-19 Pandemic, Vibeilietuo Kets observed that many urban dwellers have returned back to their villages in different parts of the state, tilling the land and fields which have been left abandoned for years. Towards this end, he commented that “the lockdown is a great opportunity for change in this regard.”

“More than ever, the pandemic has generated a lot of interest among people in growing plants and farming. I have seen a lot of farming activities this year,” he pointed out while indicating that this is a good sign. Further stating that the Chief Minister of Nagaland has also been stressing on village economy to become self-reliant, and been motivating people in his constituency (Northern Angami II), he informed that besides coffee, more than 11000 lemon saplings have been planted in the Northern Angami II area in the last couple of months.

In his village, he said, people have also done a lot of bamboo plantation and taken up farming activities of different kinds during this period of lockdown. Vibeilietuo Kets himself had ventured into rubber and agar plantation in Dimapur a little over a decade ago. He also runs one of the biggest coffee farms in the state, which is spread across an area of 14 hectares in Gariphema and is currently growing at least 25000 coffee plants, besides avocado and black pepper.

Recognizing the positive impact it can have on farmers, he had introduced ‘coffee farming’ in his village, following which, many farmers, families and groups have taken up coffee plantation in the last couple of years.

Recently, on June 26, an official team from the Department of Land Resources comprising of the Director, two Joint Directors and two Deputy Directors had visited his coffee farm in Gariphema, giving live demonstrations on growing coffee. Vibeilietuo Kets’s Coffee Farm will soon be made into a Model Farm for people with the interest in coffee farming.

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