The Nagaland government advised the farmers of the state to judiciously use the land by adopting proper land-use planning for increasing ecological and livelihood security.

Issuing farmers’ advisory services on Tuesday, state agriculture production commissioner Y Kikheto Sema said although the traditional jhum cultivation is a way of life for the Nagas, it is neither economically remunerable nor ecologically sustainable in the long run.

He said with the onslaught of the Covid-19 pandemic and drought-like situation in the current year, it is essential that the farmers may have to change from traditional farming to improved modern farming practices to adapt to the changing climate scenario.

Sema said the farmers’ advisory services are essential as unlike other states, the landholding pattern is very peculiar in Nagaland which is owned by the individual, clan and community.

The six-point advisory services asked the farmers to conserve or preserve the top hill and steep areas of the landscape and watershed which would serve as recharging zone for the benefit of availing moisture at the downstream areas. Conservation of the hilltops would immensely help not only to cope with the water stress issues and augment crop productivity but will also stabilise the ecologically fragile areas and prevent landslides, the advisory said.

It was advised to adopt diversification of crops by cultivating climate-resilient crops and mixed cropping in order to cope with the uncertainty of climatic factors so that farmers safeguard themselves against mono-crop culture failure.

The farmers may also convert their jhum plots to alternative farming like cash crops such as vegetable, fruit crops, agroforestry, coffee, large cardamom, tree plantation, etc., the advisory said.

They have been advised to identify potential areas for settled farming near the water bodies and emphasise on spring shed approach, catchment area treatment and other similar interventions.

The farming community has also been advised to revive the age-old tradition of preservation and management of seeds by preserving the best mother plant and its produce for seed storage as the government may not be able to provide the required seeds at all times.

The mothers and women have been urged to continue to be the best ‘seed keepers’.

The farmers have been advised to avail the facilities at the soil testing labs, established in 11 districts, to test their soil and ascertain the soil health status so that the officers and scientists of the agri and allied departments, Krishi Vikash Kendras (KVKs) can guide them to manage their soil and manage other soil amendments.

Bhadra Gogoi

Bhadra Gogoi is Northeast Now Correspondent in Nagaland. He can be reached at: bhadragogoi@yahoo.com