Nagaland, a predominantly agrarian state, showcased its rich agricultural heritage in the villages of Jakhama and Aliba on 10 May 2024 in the districts of Kohima and Mokokchung, respectively.

For Jakhama village in Kohima, it was the first Nagaland Potato Festival, aimed at promoting organic potato cultivation in the state and nurturing local entrepreneurship. Kevithuto Sophe, Commissioner of Police, Dimapur, revealed that potatoes were initially introduced to Jakhama Village by Nepalese settlers. He noted with encouragement that potato cultivation has become a household practice in the village. According to ANI, approximately 73 stalls were set up by vendors, showcasing a variety of potatoes.

In Aliba village, the Cucumber Festival marked its successful third edition. This success was due to the efforts of around 80-90 cucumber farmers including the oldest male farmer, Imnanichet, aged 78, and the oldest female farmer, Imchasungla, aged 72. The farmers harvested more than 22,000 cucumbers. The festival also pays tribute to Late Purremba Pongen, a pioneer of offseason cucumber cultivation.

Aliba cucumber
Veyielo Doulo, Director of Tourism, Nagaland, inaugurated the Cucumber Festival at Aliba Village, Mokokchung.

Both villages emphasized that the festivals are collaborative initiatives driven by like-minded individuals.

Rongsennungla Imchen, Member of the Organizing Committee and Deputy Project Director of ATMA, Mokokchung, stated that the festival’s primary objective is to promote cucumber cultivation and raise awareness among people from other districts about the potential for income generation through farming.

For Veyielo Doulo, Director of Tourism, Nagaland, who was a special invitee at Aliba’s cucumber festival, cultivating cucumber during the dry season was one of the rarest things and applauded the farmers for their different thoughts and approach to use traditional scientific methods.

In fact, Doulo observed that the festival transcended its cucumber theme, becoming a unifying event for the Nagas. He said, unity, prosperity, and harmony was created by bringing people from different tribes.

“Through your cucumber festiva,l you are bringing unity among the Nagas,” observed Doulo.

He suggested that Aliba village has the potential to become a tourist destination and recommended the establishment of homestays and hotels within the village, and assured that training on hospitality and tourism will be provided. He encouraged locals to identify tourist attractions within the village.

In Jakhama, Kevithuto Sophe expressed his belief that exposure to festivals like the Potato Festival will encourage more people to engage in agro-based activities. Amidst the trend of unemployed educated youths opting for white collared jobs, Sophe urged educated youths to explore the feasibility of agro-based entrepreneurship, emphasizing the importance of returning to their agricultural roots.

Potatoes on display during the Potato Festival in Jakhama village on 10 May

Teputo Richa, an organizer of the Potato Festival, stated that the festival aimed to promote local farmers and their products. Richa highlighted how potatoes are sold directly from the field at the time of harvest, bypassing traditional market channels.

“The potatoes do not reach the market but are sold off in the field itself at the time of harvest; people come and buy the potatoes from the field itself,” said Richa, adding, “when the products are promoted, market is being promoted.”

The event partners for the Cucumber Festival included the Agricultural Technology Management Agency (ATMA), Nagaland Horticulture, and Hills Agro Agency. The program was chaired by Temjentola, Secretary of the Organizing Committee, with the welcome address delivered by Lipokmar, Convenor of the Organizing Committee. Short speeches were delivered by Tatongkaba Pongen, Chairman of Aliba Village Council, and Rongsennungla Imchen, Member of the Organizing Committee.

In Jakhama, an introduction to Scientific Methods of Potato Cultivation was presented by N Sailo, Senior Scientist and Head Incharge of the ICAR-Central Potato Research Institute (CPRI) Regional Station (RS) in Shillong, Meghalaya.

Mokokchung Times

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