Other States

Punjab goes to Nagaland’s Noklak for farm push

L. Hangthing of Nagaland’s Noklak district wanted to go to Punjab for learning modern farming techniques that would help increase the yield of his crops.

The Superintendent of Police he sought help from had a “better idea” given Noklak’s remoteness. She brought Punjab and Haryana to the farmer and others of his ilk along the border with Myanmar.

Over the months, Pritpal Kaur Batra used her connections back home in Haryana to bring farming experts from northern India for providing tips or training local farmers in Noklak. This has resulted in local farmers processing the fruits, vegetables and other crops they grow into value-added food products.

Nagaland’s newest district announced in December 2017, Noklak is one of the remotest in the northeast. What has discouraged farmers in the district for decades is poor communication; it takes 13-14 hours to reach Nagaland’s capital Kohima and commercial hub Dimapur from Noklak, the district headquarters.

“For 30-35 years, we have been requesting the State government to provide us with greenhouses, storage facilities for perishable products and food processing units. It has taken a police officer from a faraway land to raise our hopes,” Mr. Hangthing said.

Noklak, once notorious for arms and drugs smuggled in from Tamanthi in Myanmar, has often had to deal with men in uniform, especially during the peak of extremism between 1980 and 1997 when the first of the factions of the National Socialist Council of Nagaland declared a truce.

Changing police perception

But Ms. Batra, a woman in uniform has changed the perception of the locals about the police.

“Well, I have merely followed what Sikhism has taught me – to facilitate linkages for farmers who seek help. And since farming is in my Punjabi blood, such interventions beyond policing have perhaps been easier for me,” she told The Hindu.

During her short stint as the SP, Ms. Batra toured villages with experts to teach scientific farming, targeted drug addicts under rehabilitation to engage them in livelihood-generating programmes and sent groups of farmers to Dimapur to learn food processing and become master trainers.

She has also invited specialists from Krishi Vigyan Kendra to help train locals in growing shiitake mushrooms and other high-value crops. Under her guidance, the Noklak Farmers’ Producer Company was registered.

The farmers now have a branded range of products such as banana, jackfruit and bitter gourd chips, fruit juices, raw honey and pickles of both vegetables and meat. The brand, Taste of Noklak Society, hopes to beat the connectivity issue that once threatened farming in the district.


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Printable version | Dec 8, 2021 10:39:15 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/other-states/punjab-goes-to-nagalands-noklak-for-farm-push/article36922455.ece

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