Mizoram farming scheme attracts international support, funding

Aizawl, Sep 1 (IANS) The Mizoram government’s flagship farming scheme that aims to benefit over 125,000 tribal families in the state has attracted international funding and global agencies’ support, Chief Minister Lal Thanhawla said here.

“A tri-partite agreement was signed between Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO), the union agriculture ministry and the Mizoram government for technical co-operation for the flagship programme – the New Land Use Policy (NLUP),” Lal Thanhawla said here in a meeting.

An official quoting the chief minister told IANS here on Tuesday that under this agreement, $496,000 have been received from FAO, an organisation of the United Nations.

“Under the NLUP, over 125,000 families would be given financial assistance and training for permanent settled farming instead of ‘jhum’ cultivation,” Lal Thanhawla said while addressing a gathering of stakeholders.

Tribals in the northeastern states practice ‘jhum’ or slash-and-burn cultivation. This shifting form of farming usually involves cutting down of entire forests in the hills and allowing the slashed vegetation to dry on mountain slopes prior to burning. Rice is grown along with vegetables, maize, cotton and mustard, among others.

Tribals constitute 27 percent of northeast India’s 45.58 million people.

“Under the NLUP, 90,139 beneficiaries (families) have so far been helped and assistance for another 44,861 families would be started soon,” the official quoted the chief minister as saying.

The chief minister said that a memorandum of understanding was recently signed between the Mizoram government and the Tata Trust wherein the latter would contribute Rs.18 crore for promoting livelihood activities to supplement the NLUP programme.

An additional Rs.2.30 crore has already been provided by Tata Trust for supportive dairy intervention programme (SDIP) in Mizoram.

The Mizoram government launched the Rs.2,873-crore NLUP in 2010 to solve food scarcity by moving away from jhum cultivation to stable and sustainable farming.

A major aim of NLUP is to develop and give all farmers in the state suitable, permanent and stable trades. It also aims to make all farmers self-sufficient in rice, vegetables and extend monetary help.

“Packages of activities targeting commercial farming, primary processing, promotion of livestock, pisciculture, sericulture, plantation of cash crops and similar activities have already contributed to the economic welfare of the beneficiaries,” the chief minister said.

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