Rio emphasise on self-sufficiency with modern farming practices

Chief Minister Neiphiu Rio with awardees of Millet festival at Naga Heritage Village on December 2. (Photo Courtesy: DIPR)

Chief Minister Neiphiu Rio with awardees of Millet festival at Naga Heritage Village on December 2. (Photo Courtesy: DIPR)

Morung Express News
Kohima | December 2

Farmers are facing severe challenges due to climate change and unpredictable seasons or rainfalls leading to shortage of food grains. While both the poor and rich people rely on food for sustenance and enjoyment, agriculture plays a crucial role in our society.

This was stated by Chief Minister, Neiphiu Rio while inaugurating the Millet Festival 2023 at the culmination of International Year of Millet held at Organic Pavilion on the second day of the Hornbill Festival at Kisama, The Naga Heritage Village.

He expressed delight that many farmers in the state, particularly from the eastern areas have taken up cultivation of Naga’s traditional crop, millet. Stating that traditional farmers are doing exceptionally well in this, Rio hoped that the celebration of the culmination of the International Year of Millet, marks the beginning of increased millet cultivation in the state.

To this, he suggested on distribution of good quality seeds to other farmers or, if available, the Agricultural Department should purchase and distribute to the farmers in other districts. 

Despite having around 70% of the population engaged in farming, we still do not have sufficient food grain production for our own needs, pointed out Rio and emphasised on the need of modern farming supported by technical knowledge and scientific research to make our economy viable.

“It is crucial that we upgrade to modern farming practices through scientific research and technical knowledge to ensure economically viable production and outcome,” said Rio adding that indigenous farming methods yield limited returns and farmers don’t get what they are supposed to get.

Nagaland being a consumer state and not producing for its own consumption, the CM encouraged that educated people should utilise their knowledge and skills to become progressive farmers in sectors like agriculture, horticulture and veterinary to strive for self-sufficiency in the state.

While urging the Agri department to continue to encourage farming, and although millet is not under the category of price stabilisation support, he suggested for inclusion of millet under this, to encourage the farmers to cultivate more.

He informed that the state has received a big sum of money for price stabilisation which is lying in the account, and the failure to spend it would require returning it to the ministry. While the state government can approach the Ministry for inclusion of millet under this, he suggested that the money can be advanced to needy farmers for cultivation of millet.

With companies interested in contract farming or purchasing millets, Rio stated that farmers must be encouraged for commercial-scale production wherein the department can facilitate the market linkages. 

“This is an awakening and an opportunity for our people. It presents a challenge that requires all of us to give our best and support farmers in growing more” stated Rio.

In his brief speech, Advisor MhathungYanthan appreciated the dedicated staff of the Department of Agriculture, as well as the efforts of farmers, crop scientists, and policy makers. He commended their work in promoting millet, a once neglected crop, and helping it regain its rightful place in agricultural practices.

The Department of Agriculture, he maintained has undertaken numerous activities to highlight the health benefits, environmental advantages, and economic potential of millets, which has been a great source of motivation and encouragement for the farmers. The demand for millets, given its versatility and nutrient content, is steadily increasing in urban areas, prompting research institutions to develop climate resilient varieties of millets, said Yanthan.

The Advisor also lauded the interest shown by private companies in contractual farming, recognizing the promising future of millet farming. Additionally, he informed that the process for obtaining GI (Geographical Indication) registration for millets is currently underway, with the government placing great focus on it. “This registration will unlock the vast potential of millet farming in our state” he stated.

Meanwhile, the Chief Minister also handed various awards to the farmers. Chingmai village under Tuensang district was awarded the ‘Best Millet’ while Pessao village under Tobu sub-division for ‘Excellent Millets’ and Chipur village under Noklak district for ‘Good Millets.’ They were awarded with citation and cash. 

Under the Self Help Category (SHGs) Woemn Society Thuvopisu, Phek district; Tse Badze, Chiechama, Kohima district and Millet Sisters, Meluri, Phek district were awarded with citation and cash.

Under individual category, Chabao Hamlong from Tobu, Mon was awarded the best farmer and Senjang from Chingmei village, Tuensang district for ‘Excellent farmer.’