By Dr. Amrit Patel:Â
Sericulture: Sericulture is concentrated in some traditional pockets employing mostly poor families. Region’s contribution to the country’s total production of raw silk is about 6 %. However, its contribution in terms of Muga and seri production is more than 90%. Over 3.8 lakh families are engaged in sericulture farming alone with annual production of about 1063 metric tons. Region’s agro-climatic conditions are suitable for the development of sericulture which should, therefore, be developed as a major employment generating and income earning industry.
Vision 2020 document envisages bringing around 2.35 lakh hectares of wasteland under sericulture depending upon its suitability and raising sericulture production to 5063 metric tons by 2020. With more areas brought under sericulture and higher level of productivity and output, additional income generation for farmer families is expected to be of the order of more than Rs.580 crore from cultivation of eri and about Rs.1100 crores from Muga per annum by 2020.
Need: Strategy to achieve aims envisioned in the Vision document should, therefore, include
Forest: Forest and the tribal population owe a symbiotic relationship. Their dependence upon forest is total, vital and significant suggesting that the traditional rights of the tribal people on forest have to be acknowledged. Region has forest cover accounting for 56.93% of reporting area as against country’s 22.83%. Government owned forest is around 65% whereas village communities, individuals and chiefs own the rest. The percentage of forest area is high in all states with highest in Arunachal Pradesh (93.75%) followed by Manipur (86.10%), Mizoram (76.79%), Tripura (57.78%), Nagaland (54.48%), Meghalaya (42.29%), Sikkim (39.35%) and Assam (24.62%). The region abounds many valuable minor forest products. Besides, Arunachal Pradesh alone has more than 500 species of aromatic and medicinal plants.
Need: Farmer-friendly forest policy accompanied by initiatives to completely arrest exploitative informal market system in operation can enhance growth of forest. Forest management policy initiative with full involvement of the local communities is necessary to efficient management of forest resources for sustainable development. Forest management calls for use of Information Technology and robust management information system. It is necessary to
Bamboo: NER is the largest bamboo reserve of India with 89 spices out of 126 under 16 genera in India. Bamboo, one of the fastest growing utility plants on the earth extends over an area of about 3.50 lakh hectares and accounts for about 66% of country’s bamboo resources. Small scale cultivation in the backyard of the homestead reflects the tradition for self-consumption. Plantation sustains 70% rural labour force of the region symbolizing an integral part of the cultural, social and economic traditions of the people. Bamboo handicrafts and cane are ubiquitous. Region’s potential for growth and significant opportunities for multiple commercial use of bamboo can transform NER into ‘Green Gold’. Efforts to add value to bamboo with primary processing at the village and community level and commercial processing at secondary level can substantially enhance family income of the rural population According to Cane and Bamboo Technology Centre [CBTC], the raw stock of bamboo conservatively valued stands at Rs.5,000 crores. Appropriate schemes seeking community participation and integrating with supplies of production inputs, technology, extension and marketing services can raise the annual turnover to Rs.10,000 crores for the region. An United Nations Industrial Development Organization (2002) survey puts the market potential for various bamboo based products as:
Need: In order to benefit large number of rural poor, it is necessary to evolve farmer friendly policy and execute programs for bamboo development. The CBTC under the NER Bamboo Mission can help [i] formulate bamboo development perspective plan for Twelfth Five Year Plan [2012-17] focusing on program components viz. scientific plantation, community participation, training, processing, handicraft-product development and marketing on a sufficiently large scale and [ii] State Governments implement it for sustained development of bamboo plantation for contributing to region’s socio-economic growth.
Implementation of the perspective plan in a mission mode seeking full participation of all stakeholders should aim at about 10% annual economic growth, raising the level of contribution of this sector to Gross State Domestic Product to more than 5%, generating around one million employment opportunities in bamboo related activities, enhancing family and community income with at least one member of a family getting full time employment throughout the year in the bamboo growing clusters. The strategic action plan, among others, includes
Organic farming: Region has significant untapped potential for organic farming that can better be harnessed by encouraging farmers to practice organic farming. In this context the Union Ministry has initiated measures to promote organic farming in the region to take advantage of the growing international demand for organic foods. The ICAR has, also, aptly identified the need to establish a Quality Control Laboratory for the entire NER and an accredited agency for organic certification to tap the huge market opportunities in South and South-East Asian countries. Thus, in order to promote organic farming and tap export market in an organized way there is need to