Micro Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) including the agri and allied sectors are areas which need boosts to revive the State's economy. (Morung File Photo)
Response to COVID-19 pandemic's effect on the State's economy
Kohima | May 14
The global economy has been adversely affected due to the COVID-19 pandemic. In Nagaland too, numerous organizations have called on the Government to prioritise the informal sector and Micro Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) affected by the COVID-19 lockdown in the disbursement of rescue packages to resuscitate their operations.
In this regard, The Morung Express contacted Neichute Doulo, CEO, Entrepreneurs Associates (EA) Nagaland to share his views and suggestions for addressing and restoring the state’s economy in the wake of COVID-19 pandemic affecting Nagaland as well.
Support MSMEs, Micro Retailers
Doulo, who won the ‘Social Entrepreneur of the Year Award 2016’ from the Schwab Foundation, felt that the state government must immediately come to the rescue of MSMEs in Nagaland.
“We don’t have so many manufacturing units, which means it is not difficult for the government to rescue the few existing MSMEs in Nagaland like in tea, primary and secondary manufacturing units, hotels, restaurants, carpentry units, printing press, fabrication units, education based entrepreneurship like pre-schools, etc. in Nagaland,” Doulo told The Morung Express.
He said that most Nagas in business are first generation entrepreneurs engaged in Micro Retail trade, providing meaningful jobs to tens of thousands across the state in towns and villages. They need circulating capital to be back on their feet.
The government must push the banks to provide circulating capital to these Naga first generation entrepreneurs, which is not a difficult task, Doulo said adding “Credit inflow of Rs 1000 crore from banks to micro retail outlets in the state is not impractical or a difficult choice, but such a push can support about 30,000 micro retailers. This must be done on war footing to get back our micro enterprises back on their feet.”
Agri & allied sectors
Stating that COVID-19 has shown how dependent Nagas are on forest based products like wild vegetables; he said “we need storage facilities and cold rooms to store the abundant wild vegetables. This will also ensure freshness of not just wild veggies but also perishable ones like tomatoes, chilly, cabbage, potato, pumpkin, ginger, bottle gourd, squash (chow chow), cucumber, etc. and fruits like water melon, lemon, orange, pineapple, banana, etc.”
However, for the smooth flow of the supply chain from villages to urban areas, basic infrastructure and logistics need to be in place.
The government can provide some basic logistic support to market the agri and allied products, which will not only ensure the quality of the products but can be income remunerative for farmers in the villages, he added.
Price support for agri produces
He said that the government should come up with programmes to buy back farmers’ produce which will entail more production of vegetables and crops in the coming seasons.
“If there is assured market, our farmers can produce manifold,” he observed.
Small Seed Pool Funds can do wonders for farmers in Nagaland, according to Doulo. “Procurement policies with the proactive support from the government can help our farmers in a big way,” he added.
Livestock and aquaculture
Rearing of mithuns, buffaloes, cows, pigs and goats for meat protein is important for the state, he noted while adding that “We must develop timelines of 3/6/9/12 and 24 months to install this economic opportunity for Nagaland.”
"We can develop small fisheries across Nagaland. Since the lockdown has disrupted the supply of fishlings in India, there is going to be at least 20% lesser supply of fish in the market in India next year," Doulo said. This, he said, “is a huge opportunity for our farmers to develop micro fishery ponds this year.”
Stating that Nagaland as a whole must work out an action plan, he said “We can try our best to mitigate rice production which will be harvested within the next 6 months. This action plan is same for Naga dal, kholar, etc.”
To increased production in Nagaland in the next 8 months which will go a long way in providing food security for the state, Doulo suggested that the government put the action plans into practice from now.
This, compounded with a Seed Pool Fund for procurement of agricultural produce, will go a long way in providing food security for the state, he said.
As the non-farming economic activities limp back to normalcy after lockdown, Doulo said, Nagaland can make agriculture vibrant like never before with timely and effective interventions.