NAGALAND EMPOWERMENT OF PEOPLE
THROUGH ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT (NEPED) PROJECT
The NEPED project is being implemented in 2 phases. The
first phase started in February 1995 and ended in March 2002, including a 9-month bridging
period. The second period commenced operations from April 2001.
The project is being implemented by a team of 14
government officers drawn from various departments and is called the Project Operations
Unit (POU). A Team Leader who is also a Secretary to the Govt. of Nagaland heads the POU.
THE FIRST PHASE :
In the first phase, the premise was two fold :
The strategy was simple and straightforward. Since the
jhum farmer was already planting a diverse portfolio of annual crops, why not ask them to
plant another perennial crop trees.
Some salient features of this phase are :
NEPED was Nagalands first donor funded project with Rs.
12.86 crores allocated over the 5-year period.
1794 farmers Test Plots( and not demo plots) were
established in 854 villages (out of 1010 villages) all over Nagaland, covering about 5500
hectares of land.
Survey conducted by an external evaluator in 1999 has
recorded that replication of the NEPED intervention was at a ratio of 1:6 (about 33,000
ha). This figure is likely to be much higher now.
Over 7 million trees planted in the first phase.
The Government of Nagaland declared 1999 as The year of
tree plantation and about Rs. 2.5 crores was spent in plantation of indigenous
species all over Nagaland, an activity closely coordinated by NEPED staff and the district
The village councils voluntarily allotted 93 test plots to
women. This was the result of a concerted sensitization exercise in the villages and also
the empowerment and the leadsership training imported to 213 women from 123 villages.
Women were financed to set up 80 tree nurseries to supply
planting materials on a commercial scale. 50 of these are self-sustaining to this day.
NEPED adopted participatory methodologies in planning,
designing and implementation by constantly validating with farmers.
For the first time, environmental concerns figured on the
agenda of the tribal bodies and grassroot NGOs. Fort example, the Chakhesang Public
The ZZ file, a computerized spreadsheet and
botanical search tool was created. This database incorporates characteristics of over 6000
plant species spread over 256 parameters. The Royal Botanical Society, UK has termed this
as a unique work.
NEPED created a human data bank by identifying 14
elders from various tribes and forming them into the Local Experts Team. These
men were respected leaders in society possessing a vast repository of traditional
knowledge were instrumental in effective delivery of the project, sustaining it an
resolving minor issues/.
The POU has authored more than 25 briefing papers for mass
dissemination, including international journals. It has also authored a 300-page book
Building upon traditional agriculture in Nagaland, India, a work that has
earned accolades all over.
An amount of Rs. 90 lakhs remained unspent in the 1st
phase. The donors permitted this amount to be utilized in a bridging period
between the first and the second phase (June 2000-Mrach 2001).
During the bridging period, a Test Cluster of 4
villages was created in the cardamom belt of Zunheboto district. An amount of Rs. 16,73
lakhs was spent training farmers, arranging cardamom suckers and experimenting with Kiwi
fruit. This was done to create a pilot for on farm trials as market research
revealed that cardamom could be a major exportable crop for Naga farmers.
The rest of this amount was spent in selection and
sensitization of villages, formation of District Support Units (DSUs), management
training, and publication. Conducting participatory exercises with farmers, carrying out
in-depth studies into VDB dynamics, setting up a new office and developing the 2nd
Since efforts at containment, management and gradual
reduction of shifting cultivation will have
to continue for quite sometime and possibility of its elimination in near future is rather
remote, the strategy adopted by NEPED project in Nagaland for improvement of the practice
may perhaps be more appropriate.
Dr. J.K.Rawat and D.P. Bankhwal Forest Policy and Legal
Framework in Himachal Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh, Jammu & Kashmir and North-Eastern region
of India. Dehradun, April 2000.
THE SECOND PHASE:
The second phase is focused on 105 villages equitably
spread across all districts of the state. The phase started its operation in April 2001.
Criteria for Selection of project villages.
of the VDB in development activities and the fixed deposit it has.
of the village in the 1st Phase
to the project village
of formation of village and market clusters
of viable villages from the standpoint of the district Administration.
The project strategy is to focus on the village councils
(VC) and village Development Boards (VDBs) as the mechanism of delivery. NEPED would
capacitate these institutions for village level interventions, instead of merely using
them as entry points into local communities. Capacity is being enhanced inVCs/VDBs in
order for them to: credit institutions facilitating investment in production.
Utilize the seed money (corpus fund) as micro credit support
to provide low- interest loans to farmers for incorporating fallow cash crops into jhum
Provide support to farmers for processing and marketing of
these cash crops.
Shift from external subsidy-reliant approaches. The VDBs have
a pivotal role to play in project operations ranging from:
the credit mechanism,
the credit need of the participating farmers,
upon the modalities of disbursing the credit,
Ensuring and monitoring the
repayment of loans, and
the credit to the expanding numbers of villagers seeking credit support.
compared to 1st phase, this represents a massive scaling down wherein the
VCs/VDBs are the actual implementers and the POU managers in the project. The approach has
been totally decentralized to a bottom-up participatory approach and villagers are been
consulted at every step. Farmers are now being encouraged to plant shade-loving cash crops
in their plantations, after extensive research on the market demands and the agro-climatic
suitability for various biome zones in Nagaland. Some of these crops are cardamom, ginger,
black pepper, betel vine and passion fruit.
Barely in its 11th
month of operation now, the response has been overwhelming, with most villagers reporting
a waiting list of farmers. Some basic facts and figure:
The total fund available over 5 years is Rs.12.85 Crores.Rs.9
Crores shall be directly transferred to the bank accounts of 105 participating villages
between 2001 and 2005 fro setting p the revolving credit mechanism.
25% of this fund (Rs.2.25 Crores) is exclusively earmarked
for women to take up their own schemes and programmes.
Another Rs.1.3 Crores shall indirectly benefit
VCs/VDBs/farmers by way of capacity building, training and exposure trips.
The remaining Rs.2.25 Crores will be used for monitoring,
research, overheads and capital, setting up processing equipment and production
infrastructures etc. over the 5-year period.
The annual receipt of funds from donors varies from Rs.56
Lakhs (2005-2006) to Rs.3.92 Crores (2002-2003).
Between April-November 2001,Rs. 190.75 lacs was transferred
to 105 villages bank account with an average of Rs.23.75 lacs in each district (see
table below) and more than 2000 farmers/SHG have availed of loans.
Loans vary from Rs.5000 to Rs.20,000 to commensurate farmers
needs. Each loanee places assets proportional to the loan availed as mortgage to the VC.
The VCs/VDBs fine-tune the credit mechanism to
suit their needs based on their local conditions, but within the ambit of the general
guidelines. Hence, rate of interest varies from village to village, as does the modus
Number of farmers who availed loan and those in wait list
|Availed loan 2001
|Amount disbursed in 2001(lacs Rs.)
|Wait list for 2002
Farmers are being encouraged to establish SHGs (Self
Help groups) and
marketing boards, bringing about social cohesion and a
An estimated 1362 hectares has been brought under cash crop
plantation during 2001.
Ginger has emerged as a major cash crop and NEPED farmers
harvested about 500 metric tons in February 2002. A buyer from Delhi is purchasing the
ginger @Rs.4.75 per Kg at Dimapur. This arrangement has been made after in-depth research
into the markets.
As can be seen
from the tables above, there is a wait list of 2545 prospective farmers
prepared by the VCs, wanting to take loans from the corpus fund during 2002.
This waiting list in almost every village has
resulted in informal peer pressure groups on first-round loanees,
ensuing timely repayments.
Subject to approval by ICEF, approximately Rs.3 crores shall
be added to the corpus fund in all villages during 2002-2003.
Micro business plans are formulated with each loanee to
ensure that loaned amount commensurate with his/her requirement and a viable repayment
schedule is also worked out.
A recent review of the first 9 months of the credit mechanism
indicates that repayment rates were high and earlier than anticipated.
For the first time, women are being allowed access to land,
either by purchase or long-term lease. Modalities vary from tribe to tribe, but with a
very definitive tilt in benefit sharing in favour of the women who are organizing
themselves in small formal groups to undertake development activities.
The department of Rural Development has issued a notification
to the effect that women in NEPED villages may utilize their share of the
grant-in-aid funds to purchase land.
Farmers are organizing themselves into formal groups for
creating marketable surplus and accessing markets. In some villages, other farmers are
also taking to cash crop plantation without availing loans, thereby creating a crop
In the near future, cardamom shall become a major exportable
item, as indicated by the demand for planting material. Locally available planting
stock(over 3 lac suckers) has been exhausted and there is a demand for 7.24 lac additional
Processing and storage units and other forms of value
addition will be set up soon.
NEPED is programmed to go in for organic
certification of its farmer produce by 2005.
A model Integrated demo plots has been set up at Merema, near
Kohima, on 5 hectares of land allotted by Agriculture department. Some of the best
practices and farmer innovations observed in phase 1 are demonstrated here for the
benefit of visitors, researchers, farmers and scientists
NEPED has set up a Resource Center in its office at Kohima.
This center contains documentation and compendia on many aspects of agriculture, forestry,
botany etc., both international and national, including NEPEDs own local
contribution on the subjects. This has been established for the benefit of students and
All these activities are being
undertaken as per itemwise timelines and budget allocation incorporated in the Project
Management Plan, a comprehensive document prepared in consultation with the donors, which
charts the course for the entire 5- year period. Audit is carried out every 6 months at
Kohima by George Read & Co., Chartered Accountants from Calcutta.
OTHER SUB-PROJECTS :
The research activities of the first phase on jhum-related
interventions continue being fine-tuned. This is being done through a much smaller
parallel 3-year project funded by IRDC with an amount of Rs. 65 lacs allocated.
Selected farmers in all districts are actively involved in
attempting to induce a third year of jhum cropping (intensification) by introducing
leguminous cover crops that would increase the jhum cycle by 1/3rd number of
years. In Settsü village of Mokokchung district, all 45 households have resolved to
undertake this experiment.
The State Agricultural Research Station (SARS) under
Department of Agriculture is an active partner in this activity, especially in Mokochung,
Tuensang and Mon districts.
The International Potato Center (CIP) has come up with a
proposal to introduce True Potato Seed (TPS) in Nagaland. This project too shall be
SARS-NEPED collaboration with inputs from IDRC. Although fund availability will be clear
only after March 2002, CIP has already sponsored 2 officials from Agriculture Department
to undergo training outside the state on TPS propagation.
The Ministry of Environment and Forests, Government of India
has approved a project proposal from NEPED and sanctioned Rs.17 lacs to set up a center
for in situ preservation of endangered and endemic plant species. This center shall
operate from the Merema Integrated Model Plot.
HUMAN RESOURCE DEVELOPMENT :
Based on the premise that as the
project evolves, so will the needs of the participants in it, NEPED has expended
sufficient resources in capacity building of all partners. Moreover, due to the
international significance attained by NEPED through its networking, several other donor
agencies in the development world have provided comparatively more substantial financial
resources to learn more about the project,
its innovations and experiences. Through this, the POU have been able to maintain an
open window to Nagaland for the outside world. As a result, several
researchers, scientist and development practioners have also visited Nagaland, including a
doctorate thesis student from Canada.
10 farmers from various districts
with POU/DSU members were taken to Himachal Pradesh to see agro forestry And agri marketing sponsored by
POU members were invited to make paper presentation in several fora:
Guiyang, china sponsored by CBNRM ,IDRC, Singapore.
Evaluation Association - sponsored by IDRC,
Gender analysis at Nairobi and
Call- sponsored by PRGA, CGIAR Peru
Experience sharing at Khajuraho
(MP) -sponsored by project.
Natural Resource Management at
Chiang Mai sponsored by CBNRM, IDRC, Singapore.
POU were trained in: -
Results Based Management Financial Management Systems,
PRA, VDB functioning Credit Marketing, Outcome Mapping, Sustainable Livelihoods Analysis all in Nagaland - sponsored by
project and IDRC.
SHG formation at Varanasi - sponsored by project.
Cardamom Plantation by villagers at Sapotimi village ,
Zunheboto - sponsored by IDRC
& Development at Philippines - sponsored by IDRC.
SHG functioning at BAIF Project, Rajasthan
sponsored by project.
Export Basics by APEDA, Guwahati - sponsored by project.
23 farmers were taken to Tadubi and Pfütsero for training in passion fruit and
cardamom farming and processing sponsored by project.
VC/ VDB of 105villages trained in accounts maintenance
and bookkeeping -sponsored by project.
5 villagers from
Sapotimi trained in cardamom processing at Pfütsero sponsored by project.
VC / VDB / Farmers of 105 villages trained in Resource
Mapping sponsored by project.
Members of District Support Unit (DSU) in all districts,
mostly officers from agri and allied departments, were trained in VDB dynamics,
participatory monitoring and project management sponsored by project.
Project exchange trip of staff and farmers between
Ratnagiri Project, Cambodia and NEPED sponsored by IDRC.
Project exchange for experience sharing between BAIF
project and NEPED sponsored by projects.