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Nagaland inches closer to become quality potato seed production hub

APC & MD FOCUS-Nagaland, Y Kikheto Sema (3rd from Left), along with CIP team and senior officers of Agriculture and Horticulture departments on Friday. (DIPR Nagaland Photo)

International Potato Centre officials visit Nagaland. International Fund for Agriculture Development (IFAD) of the United Nations has expressed keenness to sponsor the project

By Imna Longchar, TFM Nagaland Correspondent

In a move to create better avenues for the farming community and more importantly bring new and innovative farming technologies to attract the educated youths towards agriculture, the Nagaland government is working on a mission mode to establish Low-Cost Potato Seed Production System for Improved Livelihoods for Farmers of Nagaland.

The Nagaland State officials led by Agriculture Production Commissioner (APC) and Mission Director, FOCUS-Nagaland Y Kikheto Sema held a discussion with the International Potato Center (CIP) on October 9 at Pusa, New Delhi, in this regard. 19 days after the discussion, the Asia Regional Director of CIP Dr Samarendu Mohanty, based in Manila, Philippines, Dr Sampriti Baruah, Project Coordinator for India, Philippines and Vietnam and Dr Mohinder Singh, Senior Consultant arrived at Nagaland on October 28.

On their arrival, they visited the tissue culture laboratories and infrastructure facilities of the Agriculture and Horticulture Department at Agri Expo Dimapur.

According to an official bulletin, the CIP team had a joint meeting with the APC & MD FOCUS-Nagaland and senior officers of the Departments of Agriculture and Horticulture.

Agriculture Production Commissioner (APC) and Mission Director, FOCUS-Nagaland, Y Kikheto Sema revealed that there was a huge demand for potato seeds in the state both during kharif and rabi seasons.

He stated that most farmers of the state cannot afford quality potato seeds from mainland India and thus buy the unsold potatoes from the grocery shops which give poor yield.

Kikheto lauded both Nagaland Chief Minister Neiphiu Rio and Minister for Agriculture Nagaland G. Kaito Aye for the initiative.

This, he said, has prompted FOCUS-Nagaland to propose to the International Fund for Agriculture Development (IFAD) of the United Nations to fund the project for potato seed production which would not only increase the farmers’ income but also generate employment among the educated youths of the State.

Kikheto further stated that IFAD is willing to sponsor the project and once approved, the existing tissue culture laboratory at State Horticulture Nursery, Dimapur, under the department of Horticulture would be upgraded which would then accommodate the requirements of the warmer foothill areas.

The main tissue culture laboratory is proposed to be installed within the existing infrastructure at the State Agricultural Research Station (SARS), Yisemyong under Mokokchung district for meeting the requirements for the rest of the State with temperate and cold climate of mid and hilly areas.

Dr Mohanty, appreciated the initiatives taken by the State Government and enlightened that through the project, CIP would introduce its novel low cost technology (Apical Rooted Cutting) with the objective to develop the potato seed value chain in the state to improve productivity and to supply high quality potato seeds to the farmers at an affordable price which can also be exported to the neighbouring states.

It would also work towards the introduction of new short duration, early bulking, climate resilient and disease resistant potato varieties responding to consumer and market demands for table and processing purposes.

He further mentioned that Nagaland has a favourable agro-climatic condition to have at least two growing seasons per year which presents an untapped opportunity to transform Nagaland into a seed production hub for the supply of quality potato seed to other States.

Later in the afternoon the CIP team proceeded to SARS, Yisemyong.

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