17 May, 2024

Seedlings of change

Vegetable nursery enterprises are reshaping the agricultural landscape in Nagaland, boosting yields and empowering farmers

Ayenmongba Chang received the Best Beekeeper Award on December 5, 2023
Ayenmongba Chang received the Best Beekeeper Award on December 5, 2023
Ayenmongba Chang received the Best Beekeeper Award on December 5, 2023
Ayenmongba Chang received the Best Beekeeper Award on December 5, 2023

Nagaland farmers traditionally struggled with low vegetable yields. Most nurseries focused on fruits and flowers, and ornamental plants, leaving farmers to raise seedlings themselves. This often resulted in poor germination, pests, diseases, and uneven growth. A 2021 survey by NEIDA revealed a major hurdle for vegetable production in Nagaland. Districts like Tuensang, Phek, Kiphire, and Tseminyu showed a concerningly low vegetable productivity of just 1.12 metric tons per hectare (MT/ha). This pales in comparison to the national average of 16.5 MT/ha and even Nagaland's overall average of 7.5 MT/ha reported by the National Horticulture Board (NHB) in 2009-2010. One key reason for this low yield was the lack of access to quality seeds and seedlings. To address this challenge, NEIDA introduced vegetable nursery enterprises aimed at bridging the gap in seedling supply.

Introducing high quality seedlings

The NEIDA program rolled out across four districts of Nagaland: Kiphire, Phek, Tseminyu, and Tuensang. A total of 10 polyhouses, each a 160 square meters (20 meters by 8 meters), were established. These polyhouses proved to be a success story. Together, they produced a remarkable 10.45 lakh vegetable seedlings, helping the beneficiaries generate a total income of Rs 20.54 lakhs, with an average annual income per polyhouse reaching Rs 2.05 lakhs. Amidst these successful beneficiaries, one farmer’s story truly stands out.

Ayenmongba Chang: A story of success

Ayenmongba Chang, a dedicated husband and father of five from Chendang village in Tuensang district, is more than just a family man. He's a leader in his community, serving as chairman for both the Moutshou Agri Allied Cooperatives and the Village Bee Keeping Committee. Ayenmongba’s passion lies in agriculture, emerging as a progressive farmer and an inspiration for aspiring entrepreneurs.

His journey began in September 2022 when he planted his first seedling. He initially focused on growing popular vegetables like cabbage, cauliflower, and broccoli, selling the seedlings for a meager Rs 1 each, within his village, which is fondly known as the 'Vegetable Village' of Tuensang. Ayenmongba sources his seeds from the local Agri outlet, and credits the intensive training provided by NEIDA, including exposure visits and technical guidance, for his success.  He's not only happy with his work, but also feels confident about achieving a sustainable income for his family.

Before the establishment of the polyhouse, Ayenmongba's income was restricted to the produce he sold in the local market from his field. His profound interest and practical experiences gained from working under polyhouses inspired him to embark on this entrepreneurial endeavour. With the polyhouse now operational, he envisions a future as both an entrepreneur and a producer.

The polyhouse proved to be a game-changer for Ayenmongba. Working within it streamlined tasks, dramatically reduced wasted seeds, and allowed for better management practices. His fellow farmers now applaud him for providing top-notch seedlings within a short timeframe, thereby easing the community’s burden of raising seedlings themselves.

From September 2022 to March 2024, Ayenmongba successfully sold 7.43 lakhs seedlings, predominantly cabbage, cauliflower, and broccoli, amassing a total revenue of Rs 16.74 lakhs solely from the sale of nursery-raised vegetable seedlings. This translates to an annual profit ranging between Rs 10 to 11 lakhs. Ayenmongba has evolved into an invaluable asset for his community, extending training and support to fellow farmers and beneficiaries who also own polyhouses.

Looking to the future

Ayenmongba isn't content with just his village's success. Given more support, he has ambitious plans to expand his operations to meet the needs of farmers across the entire district. He even intends to introduce exotic vegetable seedlings to cater to the market demands of neighbouring districts. Ayenmongba's journey exemplifies the transformative power of innovative agricultural practices and serves as an inspiration for sustainable development in the region.

For his exceptional contributions, Ayenmongba Chang received prestigious awards at the district level:

1. Best Beekeeper Award (district level) was bestowed upon him by the Nagaland Beekeeping & Honey Mission on December 5, 2023.

2. Best Farmer Award (Apiculture & Agriculture) under the Sangsangyu Block, Tuensang District, by the Agriculture Technology Management Agency on January 26, 2024.

Reflecting on his achievements, Ayenmongba Chang expressed, "I am deeply grateful to NEIDA for their invaluable support in establishing the polyhouse and providing me with essential management skills training. Their assistance has been pivotal in realising the potential of the polyhouse and managing it effectively. With the income generated from the polyhouse, I have been able to provide for my family's needs and support my children's education. NEIDA's support has truly transformed our lives, offering stability and opportunities for a brighter future. I am profoundly thankful for their guidance and support."

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East India Livelihood