NEIDA, an initiative of Tata Trusts, has been implementing Integrated Livelihood Promotion Programme in four districts of Mizoram to improve agriculture and livestock farming
Published on March 5, 2021 at 7:05 am
Updated on March 31, 2021 at 12:04 pm
Mizoram is a landlocked state in North East India with an area of 8,142 sq mi and a population of about 11 lakhs. It extends from 21°56’N to 24°31’N and 92°16’E to 93°26’E. The tropic of cancer runs through the state nearly at its middle. The maximum north–south distance is 285 km, while the maximum east-west stretch is 115 km. About 76% of the state is covered by forests, 8% is fallows land, 3% is barren and considered uncultivable area, while cultivable and sown area constitutes the rest. Slash-and-burn or jhum cultivation, though discouraged, remains in practice in Mizoram and affects its topography. The state has a mild climate, being relatively cool in summer 20 to 29 °C but progressively warmer, most probably due to climate change, with summer temperatures crossing 30 degrees Celsius and winter temperatures ranging from 7 to 22 °C. The region is influenced by monsoons, raining heavily from May to September with little rain in the cold season.
The state-wide agriculture and livestock farming have been following traditional practices for decades which have not been effective and sustainable in long terms. A new way of improvised vision of the traditional practice with a twist and some modifications that will sustain have been proposed. Hence, the Integrated Livelihood Promotion Programme was implemented by NorthEast Initiative Development Agency (NEIDA), an implementation arm of Tata Trusts.
Integrated Livelihood Promotion Programme, also known as ILP, is implemented in four districts of Mizoram (Aizawl, Serchhip, Lunglei and Champhai) for a period of five years since 2015 and now has been extended for another five years. The programme covers rural livelihood activities such as livestock development, stabilising land use, marketing strategies for optimised value chain and empowerment of community institutions. Activities include adoption of improved agricultural practices and livestock developing input-output supply system and value addition also to strengthen the capacity of organisations that are focused on improving rural livelihoods in convergence with the government of Mizoram, NABARD and other organisations.
The programme has covered over 8,000 households under ‘Livestock Development’ and over 5,000 households under ‘Stabilising Land Use’ till date. Going forward, the targeted households coverage is around 20,000 households. The activities are implemented in a cluster-based approach and the livelihood activities of ‘Livestock and Horticulture’ are taken up side by side for effective saturation level. Farmers covered under these activities will be empowered through community-based institutions such as Farmers Group/Clubs, Farmers Producers Organisation and Producers Company.
Each activity with its own components is designed to sustain each other providing a stabilised and improved source of income for every beneficiary. Livestock Farming proposed a new way of constructing a pigsty and poultry farm while assisting the beneficiaries in construction materials, animal feeds and medicines and also providing technical and medical supports. The ‘Stabilising Land Use’ introduced ways of farming at a new level while keeping the traditional practices intact; change of crops that will suit the land more and assistance in supplying better seeds of crops that are ecologically sound and at the same time remunerative for the farmers are being practised.
Agriculture and Livestock farming occupies a prominent place in the economy of Mizoram and is a major source of occupation for the people since time immemorial. All the major components of the programme are taken up side by side for effective saturation level which has started resulting in sustainability and hopefully it will continue to do so in times to come.
Mr Dharani Ratno, Executive Director, NorthEast Initiative Development Agency, says, “NEIDA aims to motivate and assist subsistence farmers to improve the productivity of both agriculture and livestock development by promoting improved practices. The project Integrated Livelihood Promotion promotes sustainable agriculture, piggery development, natural resource management, etc that are ecologically sound, and at the same time remunerative to the farmers.”
The cabbage privilege
Mr. Lalzemawia, a farmer from Zawlpui area in Serchhip district of Mizoram, has faced numerous difficulties in terms of farming which reflects in the daily lives of his family. Access to quality seedlings has been a continuous struggle year after year. Moreover, labour availability is minimal in small villages and cost of labour is high, hence resulting in farming only a small portion of cultivable land. Subsequently, his production was mainly restricted to domestic consumption and the surplus product was negligible.
In 2018, NEIDA, through the support of Tata Trusts, promoted a better variety of winter vegetable (cabbage, Ryozeki Variety) seeds to each farmer in Zawlpui area. Mr. Lalzemawia was one of the beneficiaries who received 100 gm of the seeds.
NEIDA, in partnership with the Department of Horticulture, Government of Mizoram, through the farmers’ group provided two tractors for land preparation i.e. ploughing and tilling in addition to landscape maintenance. This lifted the problem that Mr Lalzemawia was facing in terms of shortage of labour. Besides the quality agriculture input supply, the support also included imparting technical knowledge to farmers on plant, protection and agriculture soil practices.
During the 2018-19 harvest, Mr Lalzemawia earned an approximate amount of Rs 63,000 from harvesting about 4,300 kilograms of cabbage, which is more than double the amount he earned from his harvest last year.
(NorthEast Initiative Development Agency (NEIDA), an implementation arm of Tata Trusts, is a not-for-profit organisation founded in 2012. Its main work is in the areas of livelihood, water and sanitation, and Sports Promotion.)