Land Policy Benefits
Kapzela C., a 64-year-old farmer from Aizawl, would only get a yield of 1,500 kg paddy from his six bigha farm land. In the last two years, his paddy produce has gone up to 3,000 kg. He even successfully experimented with winter crops this year, growing 2,000 kg of cabbages and 400 kg of onions by cultivating just half a bigha. In 2012, he plans to sow onions in winter in the whole farm. “Like many others, I used to do jhum (slash-and-burn) cultivation. Government officials first persuaded me to take to terrace agriculture, which helps conserve soil and maintaining fertility. It protects the forest cover too. I’m now a responsible farmer,” says Kapzela.
Mizoram’s flagship New Land Use Policy ( NLUP) for agriculture and allied sectors introduced in 2009 has changed the lives of farmers such as Kapzela. As the state suffers from water scarcity, farmers are provided funds to build water harvesting structures and given free irrigation facility through drip or micro sprinkler system. “I did not have to worry about anything. I got even the slake lime, which is used to reduce the acidity of the farm land, free from government,” says Kapzela.
The government’s Watershed Development Programme for Shifting Cultivation Areas under NLUP not only encourages farmers to shift from jhum to wet rice cultivation ( WRC) or terrace agriculture but offers assistance of Rs 1 lakh to those whose only source of income is farming. Between 2010 and 2011, the government distributed 350 power tillers at 75 per cent subsidy and 50 tractors with assistance of up to Rs 2 lakh.
The results are showing. The area under jhum cultivation has decreased from 44,947 hectares in 2007 to 28,735 in 2011. The WRC area has increased from 9,594 hectares in 2007 to 12,130 hectares in 2011. The state produced 52,000 metric tonnes of rice this year, a 10 per cent increase over production in 2010-11.
Agriculture Minister H. Liansailova is pushing for more. “There is still a 75 per cent gap between total rice production and total demand in the state, where 60 per cent of the population is dependent on agriculture. We need to narrow it significantly,” he says.