Reviving the Traditional Millet Based Bio-diverse Agricultural System in Phek District, Nagaland

By Arpita Lulla, Kankana Trivedi and Milind Wani of KalpavrikshonDec. 23, 2021in Case studies

Introduction

The traditional farming system of Nagaland has been ensuring food security even in times of changing weather conditions. This system is millet based and follows the principle of biodiversity (explained below). However, most families who were once practicing this farming system had discontinued. North East Network (NEN, https://northeastnetwork.org/) is an organization that has been working with women farmers to revive this system in Phek district. This case study looks at their initiatives towards the revival of this system. It is based on the field visits in Chizami and Sumi villages in Nagaland by the environmental research and action group Kalpavriksh during the period March 28, 2019 to April 2, 2019.

Image 1. Map showing Phek district

Nagaland

The state of Nagaland is a hilly region located in the North Eastern part of India. It is largely inhabited by Scheduled Tribes who are recognized as a historically disadvantaged population in the Constitution of India.[1] Nagaland’s mountainous terrain offers a rich diversity of farmlands and agricultural practices. It has red and yellow, deep, acidic soil with low fertility.[2]Agriculture is not only the main occupation but an integral part of Naga culture, especially for over 71 percent of the population that resides in rural areas.[3]The allied activities like animal husbandry, piggery, poultry, fishing, beekeeping etc. also contribute to the source of income to the community.[4] The rich forest resources also contribute to the livelihood, for example, handicrafts made out of bamboo.[5]

Phek

This study is based in Phek district located in southern Nagaland. Rainfed agriculture is the mainstay of the population here consisting of 104 villages with 12548 households involved in farming. The district receives an average of 1527.7mm of precipitation annually and has an area of 45815.22 hectares under rainfed cultivation.[6] The field sites for this case study were Chizami and Sümi villages in Phek district of Nagaland.

  1. Chizamivillage has 586 households with a population of approximately 2500[7], out of which 80 percent are into agriculture. It is mainly populated by the Chakhesang tribe, speaking Kheza dialect.
  • Sümi is a neighboring village with a total of 112 families residing. With a population of approximately 508[8], and most of the people are involved in farming. Inhabited by the Chakhesang tribe speaking Sümi dialect, the village Sümi traces its origin to 900 AD and is known as the oldest amongst the neighboring villages.[9]
Jhum field in Chizami © Arpita Lulla, Kalpavriksh

CHALLENGE

For centuries, the traditional system of bio-diverse farming in the mountainous and hilly regions of Nagaland (sub-temperate to subtropical climate) ensured that the farmers were self-sufficient with access to rich and diverse sources of nutrition. It is a system based on agro-ecological principles which mimics nature, protects and fosters biodiversity at ecosystemic, species and genetic levels. It depicts the intricate relationship between ecology, economy and society of the region.

Diversity is an important principle of the system which has been followed by using multiple crop field types (slash and burn fields, terrace rice fields and kitchen gardens) and intercropping, making it productive as well as conserving natural resources (explained below). Strong social, cultural and food traditions helped sustain this practice. Millets are at the center of this system, making it millet based bio-diverse system. They are nutrient rich crops that have been proven to have climate-resilient capabilities.

But this traditional system of agriculture practiced in Phek, Nagaland has been weakening since the late 1990s.[10] Government policies have played a crucial role in this by encouraging commercial farming[11]along with the state declaring this practice as destructive until recently.[12]

In addition to the above reasons, the time consuming and labor intensive process of millet production[13], changing food habits[14]and reduction in collective farming[15]has led to the reduction of millet production. EH Lotha, joint director in the Directorate of Agriculture, suggests that shifting cultivation has reduced by 30 percent since the formation of the state of Nagaland in 1960.[16]Between 1966 and 2006, 44 percent of millet cultivation areas were occupied by other crops signifying an extraordinary loss to India’s food and farming systems.[17]

This paper focuses on the revival of millets in the region; it is also about the larger bio-diverse agricultural system that places millets at its center. It documents the link between millets, shifting cultivation, biodiversity and culture that have been practiced by the community traditionally. This knowledge system is at stake.However it is important to understand its importance before dealing with how it came to be threatened.

MILLET BASED BIO-DIVERSE FARMING SYSTEM- A SELF-SUSTAINING SYSTEM:

The indigenous tribes have adapted to their ecology by practicing a balanced farming system consisting of shifting cultivation (locally known as Jhum cultivation), Wet Terrace Rice Cultivation (WTRC), and kitchen garden. The latter is the most important repository of millet cultivation with more than 50 to 60 varieties of millets, pulses, oilseeds, vegetables and so on being cultivated. Traditionally, millets have played a central role in this agrarian system. They were cultivated on jhum land and sometimes on terrace fields. As a result, the various crop-fields and millets cultivation provide a self-sustaining and climate-resilient system. A brief description on the millets and the crop lands have been given below.

Millet, a super crop

Millets are referred to as ‘concepts’ rather than crops, by the Millet Network of India. A farm-to-kitchen concept, millets are not only valuable for food security, but for multiple securities, such as fodder security, health security, livelihood security and ecological security.[18]

Traditionally, paddy and millets have been the staple crops in Phek. During a meeting with the Chizami Women’s society we were informed that Millets would be consumed alone or would be mixed with rice and eaten together. But this differs between regions and tribes across Nagaland based on local ecology. In the eastern part where people have lesser land and no paddy fields, millets are the main grain of the diet. In Chizami Mr. ZulhipeChirhah (75), a village elder, stated that when he was growing up his meals consisted primarily of millet.

“In Sümi village folklore, millet (Etsübe) is the ‘elder brother’ of the ‘female’ paddy (Erübe). Millets have been traditionally harvested and eaten before paddy; even the traditional millets festival was once held with greater fervor.”[19]

Millets are a diverse range of nutrient-rich crops withhigher nutrition than rice and wheat.[20]  Its high nutrient content includes protein, essential fatty acids, dietary fiber, B-vitamins, minerals such as calcium, iron, zinc, potassium and magnesium.[21] Women elders in Sümi village described the health benefits of a millet-based diet, which includes controlling diabetes, mitigating joint pains, promoting healthy and strong bones, and a longer life. It also has medicinal properties. Sticky millets can also be used as a compliment to breast milk for infants.[22]

In Phek, millets are grown with other crops in the jhum field and various species of millets are multi cropped. This has been part of the traditional agrarian systems in Nagaland. This practice of multi cropping helps sustain and foster genetic diversity. This practice provides security against pest attacks, crop failure, sudden climatic changes, and soil erosion.[23]

Millets are crops that can grow in harsh conditions. They are low water consuming crops requiring less than 30 percent of rainfall needed for rice[24] and can grow on soil with low fertility. Millets go against all prescriptions of modern agriculture that require a lot of inputs. It can grow without any chemical fertilizers. They have high productivity and faster growing periods.[25]

Millets are uniquely resistant to weather changes. They can withstand increases in temperatures up to 2-5 degree Celsius and increasing water stress. Commonly grown millets in Nagaland are Foxtail and Great Millet (Sorghum). Referred to as ‘Tekhu-tshu’ meaning ‘crop of the needy’ in the Kheza-Chakhesang dialect, there are as many as ten varieties of foxtail millets grown in the state.[26] They have good storage capacities as well. In Chizami, some species of millets, for e.g. foxtail millet can be cultivated even after 20-30 years of storage.[27]

In 2006, hailstorms destroyed the crops, while paddy fields were washed by rain in the subsequent year. In both these circumstances, supplies of previously preserved millets along with some cultivated millets that had survived the shocks helped sustain the village. Nagaland witnessed scanty rainfall in 2009 but millet harvest production was unaffected despite decrease in water.[28]

Crop fields diversity

The tribes cultivate on the multiple crop fields (Jhum fields/terrace fields/kitchen garden) and use them interchangeably throughout all seasons. In Phek, jhum forms 55[29] percent of the cultivated land, following which terrace fields use 41 percent.[30]

  • Jhum cultivation:

Jhum (‘jhum’ meaning collective work[31] occupies around 90 percent of the area under agriculture in Nagaland. Jhum is the preferred form of agriculture even when terrace cultivation is popular among some tribes, and it maintains the principle of equal work and equal sharing of land between clans.

Multi cropping pattern is followed during the monsoon season where rice is the dominant crop, followed by maize, yam, pulses and varieties of vegetable crops. Millets are usually grown in the second and third cropping cycle when the soil loses fertility.[32]

Jhum cultivation includes clearing vegetation, mostly by fire, before the new cultivation in a forested area. In low rainfall areas, farmers are known to practice various forms of slash-and-burn agriculture, often managing a complex array of up to 60 varieties of crops (including millets) in a single field in a single year.[33] Shifting cultivation is done with ecology in mind, cutting and burning in stages to create fertile lands, reserving the upper parts of the forest (as un-encroached community land) for absorption of carbon produced and recycling each piece of land. Khenemru L. Mero (86) a village elder from Chizami explained that the land is left fallow for a few years after the harvest. This cycle/pattern is called a jhum cycle.  Earlier the lands were left to replenish for 15-20 years.

The parameters of practicing jhum cultivation sustainably are ensuring proper fire management, soil management and multi cropping. When the water catchment is not taken care of, it can be destructive.[34] Soil in Nagaland is low in nitrogen. To adapt to the reducing fallow period, to decrease soil erosion and to improve nitrogen content in soil, experiments in agro-forestry conducted by the now defunct civil society organization Nagaland Empowerment of People through Economic Development (NEPED) in 2005 led to the introduction of Alder trees to the jhum fields, which are now becoming an integral part of the jhum field. [35]Mr. VengotaNakro who worked with NEPED shares,

“Alder based systems have shown to improve crop harvest and reduce the ratio of cropping to fallow period. Today, every jhum field has Alder trees that provide nutrients and increases soil fertility.”

During the clearing period, the trees are not burnt to the ground but rather the fire is extinguished leaving 1-2 metres of the tree above the ground and crops are planted around it. An observation was made by the Chizami VC head, WelhiteNaro that the village Mon (north Nagaland) began burning the trees to the ground and this has made the weather warmer. A study has shown that deforestation increases temperature in the tropics. It also indicates that there are critical thresholds of deforestation beyond which rainfall also reduces. Together increase in mean temperature and a decline in mean rainfall or rainfall frequency impacts future agricultural productivity.[36]

Alder tree in a Jhum field © Arpita Lulla, Kalpavriksh
  • Wet Terrace Rice Cultivation (WTRC):

The next prevailing agricultural system is terrace rice cultivation, practiced since time immemorial on the hill slopes with terrace benches using irrigated water from streams and rivers. The major crop is paddy, cultivated mainly during the monsoon season.[37] Terraces are made in the middle and bottom parts of the hill slope, keeping the forests on the top hills intact.[38] Paddy is grown on these terraces while millets are grown in the borders/periphery of the terraces as they require less water compared to paddy.

Within the context of the state, it is important to note that the availability and access to this kind of landscape and terrain differs, impacting farming and consumption. Certain parts of northern and eastern parts of Nagaland have fewer to no terrace fields, making them fully dependent on jhum fields.  Sümi has fewer terrace fields as compared to Chizami. This higher reliance on rainfed agriculture and reduced crop field diversity increased their vulnerability during the last drought as compared to Chizami. Also, in Sümi as the terrace fields are located near the river during heavy monsoon the water channels were destroyed and so flooding the terrace fields. The jhum fields were still intact, securing the food source. In such situations having crop field diversity helps farmers sustain against drastic weather changes.

  • Kitchen gardens:

Home-garden is an extension of the traditional houses and mostly maintained by women. This is largely for the production of food for household consumption as well as medicinal plants and livestock fodder. In certain cases, the produce is also marketed outside.[39]These gardens have a rich variety of crops that provides diverse nutrition to the families and resilience to climatic shocks.

Table 1– Crop details for the three agricultural systems[40]

Crop details forJhum areaWTRCKitchen garden
Primary cropsMillets, Rice, Maize,RiceMaize, Pumpkin, Chilly, Beans and Yams
Varieties grownMillets – Foxtail (Etshube) – sticky and non-sticky,Sorghumand Proso milletsRice – Menabe(local gum rice), tenibe(scented rice), Kehabe(red rice), and above 20 types of Kekrube(white rice)Chow Chow, King Chilly, Green chili, Cucumber, Ladies finger, Cabbage, Mustard Leaf, Sweet Potatoes, Ginger, Garlic,  Brinjal, Bitter Eggplant, Rice bean, Long Beans, Flat Beans, Winged beans and Colocasia etc
Other cropsUp to 57 varieties of edible crops (perilla, beans, potatoes, tomatoes, Ladies Finger, Soya beans, pulses, Naga Dal, perilla, Long Beans leaves, Yard long beans, Rice bean, Short Beans, Winged beans, Flat beans, Pigeon pea, Brinjal,  potatoes, Cherry tomato, tree tomatoes, Rosella, Mint, Basil, Round Cabbage, Tree Cabbage, Cucumber, Purple Yam, Pumpkin, Sweet Potatoes, Bitter Eggplant, Sponge Gourd, Mustard leaf, Chives, King Chilli, Allium Hookeri, Green Peas, Bitter Gourd, Dolichos Beans, Passion Fruit leaves, Ginger, Garlic, Saw tooth Coriander, Taro Leaves[41], Chilli, Amaranthus, Tapioca, Colocasia[42])Maize, Pumpkin, Ladies finger, Soya bean, Chilli, Bitter Eggplant, Brinjal, Rice Bean, Winged beans, Japanese ScallionFruits- Sugar cane, Orange, Pomello,  Passion fruit, Banana, Pear, Pomegranate, Plum, Mango, Gauva, Peach, Lemon, Papaya etc-
Sowing monthMarch & April, AugustMay, June, July
Harvest monthJuly up to DecemberSeptember, October
Number of cropping per year2 (rice bean and soybean are sown in August)1

Strong socio-cultural system

Traditionally the tribes of Nagaland followed animism with most social and cultural practices revolving around agriculture.[43] Their practices promoted community and ecology oriented approaches placing co-creation and sharing of knowledge, and collective governance centrally. This collectivization ensured equity and enhanced resilience. Some of the socio-cultural practices are mentioned below:

Seeds stored in dried containers © Arpita Lulla, Kalpavriksh
  1. Seed keeping/conservation: The practice of conserving seeds and drying out meats and vegetables has been important in this farming system.  Communities and families used to have their repository of seeds, which were exchanged with each other. This preserved seed diversity and enhanced the resilience of farmers especially during changing weather conditions.  Community seed banks secured access to, and availability of, diverse, locally adapted crops and varieties, and enhanced related indigenous knowledge and skills in plant management, including seed selection, treatment, storage, multiplication, and distribution. While inter and intra community level seed exchanges retrieves and saves biodiversity, it also placed the control and access in the hands of the communities.[44]
  2. Collective Farming: In Phek district, both individual and communal ownership patterns exist. Generally, individual land ownership is practiced in case of settled cultivated land where a farmer has the sole right to use, own, transfer and even sell if he/she wishes to. Collective farming is practiced at the level of tribes, clans and families.[45] Certain areas of land belong to the collective and the harvest is shared between the farmers. Families with fields that are contiguous take turns to collectively work on all the fields, men are assigned in turns to stay on farms overnight to prevent animal/bird attacks. Also, since the land and losses are shared these attacks create less damage for individuals (farmers). Collective farming ensures equitable access to land and participatory decision making thus maintaining social justice. For instance, birds attack only a limited portion of the crops; whereas collective farming helps save a larger part of the cultivation as many people get involved in crop protection. Collective farming also helps give people who do not own land, access to a produce and an income. For instance, single or widowed women who do not own land are able to sustain because of these collective practices. During the interview with Sümi women farmers, it was revealed that millet, maize and beans are grown on clan and village lands. In a household, the women, elders and youth are responsible for preparatory tasks like weeding, seed dispersal, and harvest, whereas the men plough and burn the fields.

After the harvest, the produce is shared within the family. Before that it is mostly shared and eaten within the family. WekoweuTsuhah, Project Coordinator at North East Network (NEN) remarks,

            “Millets were earlier cultivated collectively, the communities used to exchange different varieties of millets amongst each other. Songs were sung when women used to work on fields. Post harvest festivals were celebrated.”

  • Governance patterns: Under Article 371A of the Constitution, Naga tribes are granted special powers to conduct their own political affairs as per their traditions. Each tribe has a hierarchy of councils to deal with disputes involving the breach of customary laws and usages.[46] Each village in Nagaland is divided into several subunits that are locally called Khel that are based largely on geography with its own headman and administration.[47]

Each village has a democratically elected Village Council (VC) with representatives from each Khel.[48] There is also a parallel ceremonial head of the village, generally an elder from the community, known as the Goan-Bura. These two institutions work together to deal with issues at the village level. There are also other bodies such as the Village Development Board, Women’s Society, Youth Society, and Student’s Council. There is also a separate tribal body called Chakhesang People’s Organization (CPO), which has tribe members from 65 villages as representatives and which oversees issues and disputes within the Chakhesang tribe in the region.

The VC governs the agricultural practices within its boundaries. The council collectively decides the crops to be grown throughout the year, the cropping seasons and delegation of roles. The umbrella body CPO governs forest, water and land agricultural laws and regulates the use of such resources. The CPO has banned hunting and levies a fine on those who set forest fires, to reduce environmental impact. Chakhesang Youth Front (CYF) is the implementing body and it governs this ban.

  • Relationship with nature through traditions and festivals:WelhiteNaro, the Chizami VC chairperson explained that in earlier times the relationship of the people with nature was more symbiotic and some of the community members spoke about animistic practices like worshipping the storm god, the forests and wildlife, all of which are an integral part of their cosmology. The Sümi village VC members also referred to their relationship to natural elements and how their forefathers worshipped nature, performed rituals etc. and how this strengthened their attempts towards conservation. This enabled values of coexistence with nature and respect for its resources. Understanding the language of bird calls and weather changes are knowledge systems that are still ingrained into the cultural practices of the tribe. Festivals marked significant milestones in the farming cycle. There are a few harvest festivals like Khutonye and Enonye during a year, while Tukhanye is celebrated during the sowing season.[49]Etsunye is another important festival, known as millet festival, celebrated for five days.[50]

The integrated farming system explained above, along with seed biodiversity conservation methods and strong socio-cultural systems provided sustenance to the community.

THREATS TO MILLET AND JHUM CULTIVATION SYSTEM:

Over the years, the production and consumption of millets has been declining. Along with this, the traditional system of jhum farming is also disappearing. The impacts of loss of this traditional systems, as narrated by the farmers during the field visits, are given below-

  • Nutrition decline-Health related impacts are visible. Women in Chizami and Sümi complained of joint aches when millet consumption reduced. Studies have shown that millets like buckwheat (locally known as Garuh) are gluten free and contain quercetin that has anti inflammatory properties. [51]
  • Loss of biodiversity-The gradual loss of this farming practice is wiping out the diversity of local crops which is a key element of food security.
  • Loss of food security- Earlier, community members used to exchange seeds and surplus crop produce amongst each other but now it has reduced. This is reducing the self sufficiency of the community.
  • Increasing economic hierarchies- The shift towards rice and other cash crop cultivation was entailed by the introduction of newer technology such as power tiller, tractors, de-huskers, which were accessible primarily to the richer farmers in the community. This led them to withdrawing their share of land from the larger jhum land which was collectively farmed by many families together. This shift therefore, not only escalated the economic hierarchies but also led to the shrinking of land available for collective farming.
  • Impact on community well-being-The traditional system was based on co-production of crops. Weakening of this practice is leading to the weakening of community bonding and well-being.
  • Loss of knowledge system- There has been a gradual loss of traditional ecological knowledge system which includes efficient forest utilization and conservation, appropriate selection of crop species and soil and the understanding of cycles and patterns of nature.
  • Loss of cultural values- In 2011, NEN conducted Participatory Rural Appraisal (PRA) exercises with women farmers to understand the changing value system linked to millets over 25 years. It was found that much of millet cultivation practices, songs, cultures, rituals and its consumption were disappearing.[52]

The causes for the decline of such a system are as follows-

Government policies and interventions:

After the advent of green revolution in 1965, the government policies focused on wheat and rice over millets, which used to be one of the country’s key staples.[53]

  • Post independence, polished rice began dominating diets and cultivation because of Public Distribution System (PDS) policies, where it was sold at subsidized rates. Rice production went up due to the shifts in the dietary system of the communities, a simpler de-husking process, better market availability, and more subsidies. This led to a decline in millet production. Earlier, a plot of jhum land yielded anything up to 40 varieties of crops, including millets of enormous diversity, bur gradually rice cultivation and cash cropping started wiping out this diversity of local products.[54]
  • Since before independence in 1947[55] and until recently, jhum burning practices were being termed as ‘environmentally destructive and economically unviable’ by the forest department, for it involves burning of trees. NEN found that in Kohima district jhum cultivation was discouraged by the state government because it was deemed to contribute to global warming.[56] In Phek district, The CPO imposed a ban on forest fires and placed high fines against it. In the last decade, people have been scared of cultivating in jhum fields especially in the summer month of March as the likelihood of forest fires is high. In some cases, people have lost their lives trying to stop the fire. The government has also made it mandatory to plant trees to compensate for the loss during burning.[57] This has further made it difficult for jhum cultivators to continue practicing it, leading to a reduction in its practice.
  • While the region of Nagaland spawns a myriad variety of indigenous grains, vegetables, fruits, herbs, etc., the distribution of free high yielding variety seeds by the state government took precedence over indigenous varieties[58] post 2000.[59] This process happened under the Seed Production Programme under Rashtriya Krishi Vikas Yojana launched in 2007. State horticulture department through the Horticulture Mission for North East and Himalayan States programme (2005-06) has been promoting cash crop agriculture, such as orange, banana, jatropha, etc. over the communal food crop sector. This shift is not only diluting the traditional jhum practices and focusing more on the economic returns but also introducing chemical fertilizers and pesticides. The introduction of new seeds for fodder is disturbing the health of the livestock.[60]This system is now more market oriented where farmers who previously were able to meet their own needs, have to depend on the market for the newer variety seeds.
  • Blanket production of cash crops promoted by the state horticulture department led to surplus production. Such mass production led to the mono-cropping of certain crops, replacing millets. Villages have been named as ‘orange village’, ‘potato village’, ‘cabbage village’ after its maximum produce. This pattern of mono-cropping makes communities dependent on external markets to avail other food crops and increases the risk of crop failure or market failure. For instance, VengotaNakro shared his experience about NEPED initiating a profitable ginger production in one village in 2006, which was profitable for that selected village in the start and was later implemented in other villages by the government. But this resulted in a market glut and ginger prices started crashing. This led to a lot of ginger wastage and the state had to pay a heavy price to get rid of the rotten ginger.
  • During the field visit, one of the NEN members and some farmers mentioned that farmers from western Nagaland were deputed by the government officials to teach community people permanent terrace cultivation in order to stop jhum cultivation. In the west, terrace cultivation was a prominent farming method.
  • The state forest department implemented schemes like Social Forestry and National Afforestation Programme 1976 for tree plantations on jhum lands for a period of 3-5 years.[61] Slowly, the natural forests which have been a part of the cultural landscape and a source of livelihood for these traditional societies were being replaced by rubber and Teak plantations, hampering the soil fertility and its ability to retain water.

Climate change impacts on agriculture

  • Farmers have been experiencing delayed or reduced monsoon season, impacting rainfed farming, cycles have changed. Certain crop species are getting wiped out, partly due to the changing farming cycle and partly because of reduced consumption.For instance, Black Sesame, Purple Yam, and one variety of sweet potatoes. Other visible impacts of climate change include pest prevalence, uncertain seed germination, water scarcity, erratic rainfall, reduction in seasons to only three seasons (summer, winter and monsoon), loss of wild animals and birds, loss of aquatic life in paddy fields, etc.[62]
  • During a meeting with Sümi women’s society, a farmer brought up the issue of time and more pointedly the pace of change. Over the years, farmers have been able to work around weather changes and create adaptive mechanisms in their systems but now the rain patterns are erratic, unpredictable, and sowing seasons have been pushed further making them more vulnerable.
  • Climate change has led to changes in various ecological signals that were important indicators for farming. For example, women from Sümi village shared that the calling of particular birds during sowing and harvesting is not heard anymore leading to confusion about these timings.

Changing jhum cycle

  • Factors such as increasing demographics, higher pressure on land due to change in land uses and more intensive exploitation of natural resources has led to the reduction of the fallow period on jhum land. It has decreased to 5-8 years in most cases[63] and 1-2 years in a few. In Sümi, 1-2 years is the shifting cycle.[64] These figures differ across jhum lands. Lesser time for regeneration of forests reduces the soil fertility leading to lesser productivity.
  • Earlier, farmers would cut the larger trees for firewood, keep some pieces of logs for raising counter-bunds (to stop soil erosion), and leave the litter and leaves on the fields for soil fertility. Typically they used to cut trees in September and burn the fields in the following February. But now they usually slash in February and burn in March. Project Coordinator Stephen Gangmei (NEN) adds,

“Such changes in the jhum cycle are impacting the soil fertility and are also unsustainable.”

Impact of village level governance decision onjhum land:

  • CPO and Chakhesang Youth Front (CYF) banned hunting without permits in different years for different villages. This changed the number/concentration of species in the forests, leading to an increase in bird attacks on millet crops on jhum fields when they ripen in the month of August. This is also a discouraging factor to continue jhuming. This ban was put in place when hunting practices had started to become unsustainable and commercial trading had also increased.There were also frequent depredations by wild boar, squirrels, parrots, and rodents.[65] Traditionally a variety of ‘hairy’ millet was grown to keep the birds away. In the discussion with the VC of Sümi regarding ways of mitigating the bird attacks, one of the members suggested that the government can help by providing nets for the fields. Bird attacks are more controllable when millets are grown on land collectively. But with smaller plots, the impact of attacks is larger.
  • The VC of a village customarily would select the site for the village for jhum cultivation and also regulate the land use of the area. However, the priorities of the VC had changed. Greater emphasis was laid on developing infrastructure such as construction of road, water tanks, etc. and there was less engagement in regulating the jhum sites. Lesser role of VC as a mediator amongst the community members made it difficult to cultivate collectively and access any common area for jhum. The regulation of land followed conservatory principles and which was getting lost as well.

Reduced collective farming:

  • Jhum cultivation was traditionally a collective practice contributed by men, women and youth of the community where slashing and burning was mostly done by men while sowing, weeding, etc. was done by women. However, there has been a reduction of labor on the fields, with most of the tasks being done by women thereby increasing their workload. WekoweuTsuhah from NEN shared,

Earlier, 30-40 families used to cultivate together in 20-30 acres, which has reduced to 15-20 families cultivating in 4-5 acres’ [66]

One of the major factors for this reduction is migration of men into other work areas such as construction work, driving or to urban centers in search of livelihood. Another factor is the loss of interest of the younger generation in producing their own food, instead preferring to earn wages in order to be able to afford and buy more commodities.

  • As mentioned earlier, the increased cash crop cultivation by individual farmers has led to the shrinking of collective jhum lands.

Dilution of cultural practices:

  • With the opening of external markets and the resulting increase of dependence on the same, the cultural practice of conserving and exchanging seeds and crops declined.[67] This impacted the self-sufficiency and security of the community.
  • Some of the festivals around farming are still celebrated but their significance has been dwindling. Many community members are not aware about the historical and cultural origins and significance of festivals vis-a-vis the larger ecosystem of beliefs and rituals.
  • Cultural practices form a guideline to agriculture, for instance, following traditional calendar based on indicators like bird calls. With the gradual dilution of such a knowledge system, there has been threat to the traditional system of farming.  During a conversation on the relevance of festivals, Wekoweu Tsuhah from NEN, shared,

“Some parts of the millet festival are still followed with little to no idea of its significance. With changes in the religious and social pattern, the transfer and maintenance of the traditionally acquired knowledge has weakened. ”

Lack of efficient technologies

  • De-husking millet is a challenging and labor-intensive work. There isn’t a de-husking machine available for millets. The arrival of rice mills made it easier to process rice, thereby pushing people away from millet farming. The communities in Sümi and Chizami along with NEN recognize this and are trying to work on solutions.
  • The lack of weeding technologies means farmers have to spend more time and effort on the field weeding manually. This is problematic in cases where human labor is limited. Technical solutions and innovation are required in today’s farming method for, as Seno Tsuhah from NEN expresses,

“…this might encourage youth to stay and come back to farming as well as make it easier for women farmers”.

Other reasons from within the community

  • In Chizami, with the availability of rice (which was initially market driven) and a changing diet (they prefer the taste of rice to millets) people gradually lost the taste for millets. This led to a decrease in millet consumption and cultivation.
  • The need for money to afford commodities made farmers sell their land. This has been leading to the loss of common resources, and therefore alienating them from their common resources.
  • Farmers have been growing maize for better economic return. Maize cultivation consumes less time for weeding, clearing, etc. as compared to millet production.[68]This increase in maize cultivation has led to the reduction in cultivation of millets.[69] Another reason was the preference given toMithun (Gayal, domestic bovine) rearing which is the second largest livelihood of people in Phek. Sudden increase in the Mithun population for more income opportunity has led to situations of overgrazing on community grasslands, destruction of trees and water catchment areas.[70]
  • In Nagaland, there is a distinction between backward and advanced tribes, and the latter pejoratively refers to the former as millet eating people.[71]ZulhipeChirhah, an elder from Chizami village shared that the millets are known as ‘poor man’s crop’ while paddy is universally referred to as ‘the rich man’s crop’. So when paddy became easily available in PDS system, the shift to paddy became easier for the community because of this aspirational association and correspondingly the consumption of millet reduced. 
  • Villagers suggested that 2kgs of millet seeds could get them 100kgs of millets, which is why they would like to grow it in greater abundance but don’t because they don’t know what to prepare out of the grain and that some of the varieties are difficult to pound and process for consumption.[72]

RESPONSE

While NEN was working on women’s health, they realized the importance of looking at nutritional impacts of food systems. Since 2004, NEN has been working with the farmers, especially women farmers and mobilizing villages in the district to adopt millet-based traditional agricultural methods.

NEN’s recognition of issues with growing millet in the region and the need to focus the work on its revival came from its interaction with Deccan Development Society (DDS) (http://www.ddsindia.com/). DDS is an organization in Telangana state which has been successful in making millet farming viable by marginalized women farmers.

A workshop was conducted in the villages of Phek in 2009 by DDS and NEN as a part of the larger project, ‘Community Charter on climate change’. These workshops were conducted in various farming clusters. The charter mapped the ecological past, questioned visible climatic changes experienced by the communities, and discussed possible solutions to combat them. During the workshops the elders of the community proclaimed millet to be the food that will sustain them through changing weather conditions.[73]Khenemru from Chizami village shared with NEN,

“Millet will be the future food that will safeguard them through the changing conditions. It won’t provide substantial yield but it will sustain us through drastically changing climate. I still have millets from 15-20 years ago; we cannot store rice like this.”

After this workshop, an in-depth study on the status of millet was conducted by NEN in 5 villages located in Phek, Tuensang (Noklak), Longleng and Kohima districts of Nagaland. The study examined the current growing patterns of millets in the villages and compared their value (e.g. fodder security, food security, etc.) with respect to other crops. It was found that there is a decrease in the value of millets, its production area and jhum cultivation due to various reasons. This endangering of millets was not because women farmers (and their male counterparts) were not keen on growing millets but due to the lack of technology and knowledge to grow, harvest, process and cook. In spite of this there was enthusiasm to revive the crop.[74]

With this understanding, NEN began to work on millets and food systems in five villages in Phek district – Chizami, Sümi, Enhulumi, Mesulumi and Leshemi.[75] NEN, in collaboration with the villages worked on traditional agro-ecological methods to gather knowledge, share and inculcate their interests in traditional farming. These initiatives have been participatory, with the community providing traditionally acquired knowledge and NEN working on promoting it with scientific information and innovation. According to NEN, millet revival cannot be visualized in isolation, but as a seminally important aspect of the need for greater food sovereignty and food diversity.

Although today an incident like this is unlikely, there are ways in which food security can be threatened. In the current case of external market dependency, rice comes into Nagaland from Assam. If routes from Assam face a shutdown for any reason, food supplies to Nagaland would stop. Hence NEN believes that increasing the home production of millets could be a good option for food security in addition to the nutritional benefits of the grain with regular consumption.[76]

In this context, the following initiatives were undertaken by NEN towards fostering millet based farming:

Capacity building

  • Exchange learning- DDS organized an exposure visit in 2010 where women farmers from Assam, Meghalaya and Nagaland visited DDS with members of NEN. Such exchanges helpedinform the benefits of millets, the different varieties and cropping methods.
  • Networking millet farmers- NEN established a farmer network, Millet Farmers Group, where 200 millet farmers from 11 villages in the district of Phek are sharing knowledge and accessing new markets.[77]
  • Providing financial assistance- NEN also provides interest-free loans of between 1,500 and 2,000 rupees to millet farmers.[78]

Cultural Revival

  • Biodiversity festival- In 2010, NEN organized the revival of the biodiversity festival Ethsünye (Etsu – Millet, Nye –Festival)), which was not being celebrated for three decades,[79]with seed exchanges as the theme. Beginning with six villages amongst the Chakhesang tribe in 2010, NEN has been able to reach overeight Naga tribes and farming communities from across five other Indian states until 2019.[80]
  • Seed conservation- NEN has been pushing for seed preservation and conservation in and working with community knowledge holders. Preservation of indigenous seeds and fostering biodiversity has been one of their primary focuses. The Millet Resource Centre was set up in 2011 by NEN with the participation of 8 villages.[81] Women are the custodians of seed diversity in the village, including seeds of millets. DikhwetsouWezah is a farmer in her late 50s from Chizami village who started farming at the age of 11. She has documented approximately 83 varieties of seeds used in jhum cultivation and stores seeds of more than 40 varieties of crops and is now recognized as the custodian of the seed knowledge in the community.[82]Seed selection, which is an important part of the process, is also mostly done by women. Encouragement from NEN helped the Women’s Society of Chizami establish a seed bank in February 2018.
Dikhwetsou Wezah with her collection of seeds and dried vegetable and meat © Arpita Lulla, Kalpavriksh
  • Increasing consumption of millets- NEN developed a millet recipe book to explore the taste of millets. Its purpose is to encourage the consumption of millets and bring change in mindset from viewing millets as ‘poor people’s crop to rich crop’ for its rich nutrients. Recipes developed include bakes and cakes, cookies, sweets, porridge, etc.
  • Community response- There has not been any major change in the method of cultivation, except the change of sowing season as a response to minimize bird attacks. Earlier millets were sown in March – April, now sown in July end- August.

Youth development

  • Summer farm- To involve the youth in understanding sustainable, traditional food and farming systems, NEN began organizing summer farm school annually in 2016. Five sessions have been completed with the outreach of 106 students. It is a week-long residential, experiential learning program that includes lectures, nature walks, field visits and interaction with community knowledge holders.
  • Participatory video project- This was conducted in association with North East Slow Food and Agro-biodiversity Society (NESFAS) and Insight share, Oxford. Community youth underwent basic filming and editing training, after which they produced films on local culture, agriculture, livelihood, traditional knowledge etc.

Community mobilization

  • Visual material was obtained and some more content was locally created to encourage the revival of millet. These films were screened for community viewing with the objective to create awareness and consciousness, and influence community decisions to revive millets.

Dialogues with the government

  • NEN has been engaging with the Indian Council for Agricultural Research – Krishi Vigyan Kendras (ICAR – KVK) and agricultural directorate of the state to promote millet. Their aim is to include millet in the Public Distribution System (PDS), mid-day meals (MDM) schemes at governmental schools/anganwadi after enhancing its production. Successfully adding millets to the PDS system would increase the demand for millets and incentivize production, reinforcing the revival significantly. Simultaneously, they are also trying to create farmer led markets within their respective areas to outsource millets.
  • The reduction of community land will affect the marginalized people the most, leaving them with limited sources of income. Hence NEN has been in dialogue with the government to retain government owned lands for community farming. 
  • On significant days like the International Women’s Day, International Day of Rural Women and World Food Day, NEN has initiated dialogues between women farmers and the government on women farmer rights, sustainable food systems, etc.

Procurement of machinery

  • Women farmers in two villages of Phek district procured two de-husking machines with the help of NEN. Another machine was installed in the NEN resource centre at Chizami. However, since no one had the know-how of the technology, it was left unutilized and the interest of the loan taken for this purchase has increased considerably. Unfortunately, even after a few people learnt how to use it, as the machine consumes a lot of time it is not considered feasible for mass de-husking. This needs to be addressed.

RESULTS

During our field visits, it was observed that the community’s interest and focus towards millets has renewed. Today the community as a whole is more informed about the significance of millets. With the intervention of NEN, many farmers have returned to millet cultivation. This revival has been instrumented by women farmers. Chizami has now become a model village in the Naga society because of this and other such initiatives for socio-economic reforms and environmental protection.[83] As a result, millet consumption has increased in both the villages, and people eat it at least once a month.[84] The post-harvest consumption has increased and farmers have started sharing their produce.

Restored Cultural and social Value of millet based system

  1. Women farmers are now becoming aware of the high nutritional value of millets, such as protection against diabetes, joint pain, blood pressure, etc. Women from Sümi village are well aware that market food is not healthy due to chemical infusion (synthetic fertilizers and pesticides and therefore returned to their traditional livelihood).

Revived millet cultivation among farmers

  • Earlier, 70 percent of Sümi’s population (out of 160 families) was doing jhum cultivation. All had given up millet cultivation. As of now about 50 percent of the families have taken it up again. The VC is now encouraging the growing of millets by awarding the farmer with the highest millet production with a cash prize of 2,000 rupees.
  • In Chizami village where about 80-100 out of the 600 families[85] practice jhum and all of whom (but for one or two families) had given up millet cultivation, now 60 percent have again taken up millet cultivation on jhum land because of the various efforts of NEN. Currently, 150 farmers (with an average one-acre plot) from eight villages have come aboard to revive millet-based bio-diverse farming. [86]
  • A farmer from the Millet farmers group stated that her yields increased since she joined the group. In 2019, the group harvested between 130 to 150kg of seeds, which were distributed to the community.[87]

Reviving collective farming

  • After the millet revival initiative began in 2009, the Chizami VC encouraged the community people to revive collective farming. The Sümi VC came forward and promoted collective farming by passing a resolution. This has helped in strengthening the institution itself and strengthening community bonds. One of the takeaways/outcomes from the millet festival was to build a sense of community ownership and bonding. The Chizami VC also, two or three years ago, discussed the idea of reviving the traditional millet festival.
  • Women farmers are now collectivized on the common land or clan land in some places like the Akhewgo village. Even in Chizami, members of the women’s society are planning to start collective farming. The scale of this initiative is still small, but shows promise of going up, given the right conditions.

Restoring seed diversity

  • At places like Chizami, Phuhgi and Dzhulhami, women’s societies have started community seed banks for intra-community needs.
  • More than 124 varieties of indigenous seeds are now being conserved in Chizami and 100 in Sümi. Chizami seed bank has seven types of millets. These are locally known as Kutsantshu, Merhatshu, Tsuzelu, MeniBau, Tumeli, Etsube Ephekerha, and Eletsube. During our discussion with women farmers in Chizami, it was shared that the seed bank has offered them a space for learning from each other and bridging the knowledge gap between generations. They are focusing on linking with external markets and also promoting seed exchanges between farming and non-farming communities.

Marketing

  • For the past two years, NEN has connected producers for marketing millet at the Hornbill festival at Kisama village in Kohima district to promote the art, craft and culture of Nagaland. Members from different tribes from all across Nagaland attend it. Millet also gets sold here. During the festival the demand for millets, especially from urban visitors has been slowly on the rise. This is indicative of an increasing demand for production, as well.
  • The women’s society had introduced a bi-weekly bazaar (market) for selling their surplus produce.
  • While promoting the production of millet, NEN has also been trying to address unhealthy lifestyle (especially current dietary practices) and finding a local market to connect to the millet growers.

Women Empowerment

  1. Village council passed the resolution for equal wages in agricultural labor in January 2015. Recognition of women as farmers came slowly;

“It took eight years for Seno to convince the village council to accept that women are entitled to equal pay as men in unskilled farm labor.” [88]

  1. Women havefound representation in the VC also which was primarily a male dominated decision making body. Today, there are 2 women members in Chizami VC.

Influence on the government

  1. The government of Nagaland has lately stopped discouragingjhum cultivation as destructive and has invited NEN to discuss the possibility of a joint proposal for production and marketing.  The proposal of adding millets to the PDS system will be discussed further. However, whether it will change the government policies, is yet to be seen. So far, the state government had sent its participants to join the biodiversity festival that was conducted by NEN since 2010. It has also sent representatives to attend other programs at NEN focusing on women farmer’s rights. This might be indicative of the government’s growing interest in NEN’s activities and relooking at the policies to support millet based biodiverse cultivation.

In the national context, there has been an influence on the government by various organizations advocating millets. State governments such as of Odisha, Telangana and Andhra Pradesh have started recognizing the value of millets. Odisha has begun procuring surplus millet from the farmers and have incorporated them into the PDS. The central government had launched a National Millet Mission programme in 2018, renaming millets are ‘nutri-cereals’. These initiatives give us hope that policy changes in favor of millet might occur in Nagaland as well. However in addition to millets, governmental policies strengthening the traditional farming system need to be prioritized.  In the fight against the twin crises of climatic changes and agrarian distress, policies need to be made using a holistic approach, giving the crop, agricultural system and the farmer involved equal importance. It is important to understand, especially in this local context that it isn’t only about one cereal against another but about retaining values that strengthen the vision and approach behind agriculture.  As we can see the women farmers of Phek district have begun their journey towards securing food using traditional local methods, something that would make them climate secure in the future as well.

End Notes:


[1] Preethi. “The Rights of Scheduled Tribes.”Legal Service India, March 12, 2018. http://www.legalserviceindia.com/legal/article-32-the-rights-of-scheduled-tribes.html (accessed May 12, 2019).

[2] Indian Council of Agricultural Research. Nagaland. https://icar.org.in/files/state-specific/chapter/91.htm (accessed August 18, 2019).

[3] NITI Aayog. Report of the Task Force Nagaland. Undated. https://www.niti.gov.in/niti/writereaddata/files/Nagaland_Report_0.pdf (accessed June 12, 2019).

[4]“Cultural Environment of Phek District.” Sodhganga https://shodhganga.inflibnet.ac.in/bitstream/10603/125735/8/08%20chapter%203.pdf (accessed August 18, 2019).

[5]Greener Pastures. Introduction. http://thegreenerpastures.com/places/nagaland/ (accessed May 12, 2019)

[6] ibid.

[7]Government of India. Census 2011: Chizami village population.https://www.census2011.co.in/data/village/267886-chizami-vill–nagaland.html (accessed May 13, 2019).

[8]Government of India. Census 2011: Sümi village population. https://www.census2011.co.in/data/village/267884-Sümi-nagaland.html(accessed May 13, 2019).

[9] OneFiveNine. Sümi Village. http://www.onefivenine.com/village.dont?method=displayVillage&villageId=246632 (accessed August 22, 2019).

[10] Wekoweu Tsuhah, Stephen Gangmei. Interview, Subject: “Introductory discussion on millet revival initiative by NEN”, NEN, March 28, 2019.

[11] Kulkarni, V. “From Green Revolution to Millet Revolution.” The Hindu Business Line, March 26, 2018.https://www.thehindubusinessline.com/specials/india-file/from-green-revolution-to-millet-revolution/article23356997.ece

[12] North East Network. Status of Millets in Nagaland. February 2012 (accessed June 29, 2019).

[13] GOI-UNDP Project. District Human Development Report-Phek 2009. 2011. http://www.im4change.org/docs/991phek.pdf (accessed August 20, 2019).

[14] Kulkarni, V. “From Green Revolution to Millet Revolution.” The Hindu Business Line, March 26, 2018.https://www.thehindubusinessline.com/specials/india-file/from-green-revolution-to-millet-revolution/article23356997.ece

[15] Wekoweu Tsuhah, Stephen Gangmei. Interview, Subject: “Introductory discussion on millet revival initiative by NEN”, NEN, March 28, 2019.

[16] North East Network. Status of Millets in Nagaland. February 2012 (accessed June 29, 2019).

[17]Millet Network India, Deccan Development Society, FIAN India. Millets: Future of food and Farming. Undated. http://www.swaraj.org/shikshantar/millets.pdf (accessed June 18, 2019).

[18] Millet Network of India, NEN, FST. North East Consultation of Millets. March 2010. http://www.fstindia.org/sites/default/files/event/report/ne_mini_report.pdf (accessed August 21, 2019).

[19]How a village in Phek dist. revived millets and became gender wise” Morung Express, March 19, 2017.

[20]North East Network. Status of Millets in Nagaland. February 2012 (accessed June 29, 2019).

[21] Rao, D et al. Nutritional and Health Benefits of Millets. ICAR-IIMR, 2017. http://millets.res.in/m_recipes/Nutritional_health_benefits_millets.pdf (accessed August 22, 2019).

[22]North East Network. Status of Millets in Nagaland. February 2012 (accessed June 29, 2019).

[23] Wekoweu Tsuhah, Stephen Gangmei. Interview, Subject: “Introductory discussion on millet revival initiative by NEN”, NEN, March 28, 2019.

[24]North East Network. Status of Millets in Nagaland. February 2012 (accessed June 29, 2019).

[25] Deccan Development Society. Community Charter on Climate Crisis. April 2009.

[26]Seno Tsuhah, Wekoweu Tsuhah, Stephen Gangmei. Interview, Subject: “Closing discussion on millet revival initiative by NEN”, NEN, April 2, 2019.

[27] Zulhipe Chirhah. Interview, Subject: “Millet history and its status”,March 31, 2019.

[28]  ibid.

[29] Government of Nagaland. State Perspective and Strategic Plan (SPSP) of Nagaland.https://dolr.gov.in/sites/default/files/Nagaland_SPSP.pdf (accessed August 19, 2019).

[30] Source: Nagaland Village Profile 2001, Department of Agriculture, Government of Nagaland.

[31] North East Network. Status of Millets in Nagaland. February 2012 (accessed June 29, 2019).

[32] ibid.

[33] ibid.

[34]Seno Tsuhah, Wekoweu Tsuhah, Stephen Gangmei. Interview, Subject: “Closing discussion on millet revival initiative by NEN”, NEN, April 2, 2019.

[35]Das, A. et. al. “Natural Resource conservation through indigenous farming systems: Wisdom alive in North East India”. Indian Journal of Traditional Knowledge, vol.11 (3) (2012): 505-513.

[36]Lawrence, D. and K. Vandecar. “Effects of tropical deforestation on climate and agriculture.” Nature 5:27-36. https://www.nature.com/articles/nclimate2430 (accessed August 19, 2019).

[37] GOI-UNDP Project. District Human Development Report-Phek 2009. 2011. http://www.im4change.org/docs/991phek.pdf (accessed August 20, 2019).

[38]Das, A. et. al. “Natural Resource conservation through indigenous farming systems: Wisdom alive in North East India”. Indian Journal of Traditional Knowledge, vol.11 (3) (2012): 505-513.

[39] Nakro, V. Traditional Agricultural Practices and Sustainable Livelihood.GOI-UNDP Project, 2011. https://www.nagaland.gov.in/Nagaland/Report/TRADITIONAL%20AGRICULTURE%20-%20A%20Thematic%20Report.pdf (accessed May 13, 2019).

[40]Stephen Gangmei. Email message to authors, Subject: “report on agro ecology of phek”, NEN, August 8, 2019. 17:45

[41] Das, A. et. al. “Natural Resource conservation through indigenous farming systems: Wisdom alive in North East India”. Indian Journal of Traditional Knowledge, vol.11 (3) (2012): 505-513.

[42]  ibid.

[43] Welhite Naro. Interview,Subject: “Discussion on millet”, March 29, 2019.

[44]Vernooy, R. et al. “The roles of community seed banks in climate change adaption.”  Development in Practice, no 27(3): 316-327. https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/09614524.2017.1294653

[45]GOI-UNDP Project. District Human Development Report-Phek 2009. 2011. http://www.im4change.org/docs/991phek.pdf (accessed August 20, 2019).

[46]Barthakur, M. and D.O.Lodrick. “Nagaland.” Encyclopedia Britannica, June 6, 2019. https://www.britannica.com/place/Nagaland#ref486907 (accessed April 30, 2019).

[47]Humtsoe, J. “Village Councils and Village development Board in Nagaland, (overview)” [Wordpress], April 6, 2013. https://nagalandjournal.wordpress.com/2013/04/06/village-councils-and-village-development-board-in-nagalandoverview/ (accessed May 15, 2019).

[48]Government of India. Panchayat Councils. https://www.panchayat.gov.in/documents/20126/0/PR+Act_Nagaland+-+1979.pdf/3255e38f-34be-78e0-531a-6f7e9166667e?t=1554880142311 (accessed August 18, 2019).

[49] Krishi Vigyan Kendra. District Profile. http://kvkphek.nic.in/district_profile.html (accessed August 18, 2019).

[50] Chinai, R, 2018. Understanding India’s Northeast-A Reporter’s Journal. Kolkata: Earthcare.

[51]Healthline. Buckwheat 101: Nutrition Facts and Health Benefits. https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/foods/buckwheat (accessed March 4, 2020).

[52] North East Network. Status of Millets in Nagaland. February 2012 (accessed June 29, 2019).

[53]Sarker, S. “There’s more to the Indian diet than polished rice and wheat.” The Hindu.https://www.thehindu.com/sci-tech/agriculture/take-a-grain-check-theres-more-to-the-indian-diet-than-polished-rice-and-wheat/article22429984.ece (accessed August 27, 2019).

[54]  ibid.

[55] National Institute of Rural Development & Panchayati Raj. Shifting Cultivation: Towards Transformation Approach. http://www.nirdnerc.nic.in/JHUM1.pdf (accessed August 22, 2019).

[56] North East Network. Status of Millets in Nagaland. February 2012 (accessed June 29, 2019).

[57] Wekoweu Tsuhah, Stephen Gangmei. Interview, Subject: “Introductory discussion on millet revival initiative by NEN”,  NEN, March 28, 2019.

[58] Indian Council of Agricultural Research. Nagaland, https://icar.org.in/files/state-specific/chapter/91.htm (accessed August 22, 2019).

[59] Wekoweu Tsuhah, Stephen Gangmei. Interview, Subject: “Introductory discussion on millet revival initiative by NEN”, NEN, March 28, 2019.

[60] Chinai, R, 2018. Understanding India’s Northeast-A Reporter’s Journal. Kolkata: Earthcare.

[61] NITI Aayog. Shifting Cultivation: Towards Transformational Approach. August 2018. https://www.niti.gov.in/writereaddata/files/document_publication/doc3.pdf (accessed August 22, 2019).

[62] Deccan Development Society. Community Charter on Climate Crisis. April 2009.

[63] Government of Nagaland. State Perspective and Strategic Plan (SPSP) of Nagaland.

https://dolr.gov.in/sites/default/files/Nagaland_SPSP.pdf (accessed August 19, 2019).

[64] Both figures came from our meeting with the NEN and VC of Sümi respectively.

[65] Deccan Development Society. Community Charter on Climate Crisis. April 2009.

[66] Wekoweu Tsuhah, Stephen Gangmei. Interview, Subject: “Introductory discussion on millet revival initiative by NEN” (Contd.), NEN, March 29, 2019.

[67]  ibid.

[68]  ibid.

[69]  North East Network. Status of Millets in Nagaland. February 2012 (accessed June 29, 2019).

[70]  ibid.

[71] MINI- NEN- FST. North East Consultation of Millets. March 2010. http://www.fstindia.org/sites/default/files/event/report/ne_mini_report.pdf (accessed August 22, 2019).

[72]Anne Pinto-Rodrigues. “Against the grain: why millet is making a comeback in rural India.” The Guardian. https://www.theguardian.com/global-development/2020/feb/25/against-the-grain-why-millet-is-enjoying-an-indian-revival-nagaland (accessed March 6, 2020).

[73] Deccan Development Society. Community Charter on Climate Crisis. April 2009.

[74]  North East Network. Status of Millets in Nagaland. February 2012 (accessed June 29, 2019).

[75]Seno Tsuhah, Wekoweu Tsuhah, Stephen Gangmei. Interview, Subject: “Closing discussion on millet revival initiative by NEN”, NEN, April 2, 2019.

[76] North East Network. Status of Millets in Nagaland. February 2012 (accessed June 29, 2019).

[77] Anne Pinto-Rodrigues. “Against the grain: why millet is making a comeback in rural India.” The Guardian.https://www.theguardian.com/global-development/2020/feb/25/against-the-grain-why-millet-is-enjoying-an-indian-revival-nagaland (accessed March 6, 2020).

[78] ibid.

[79] Chinai, R, 2018. Understanding India’s Northeast-A Reporter’s Journal. Kolkata: Earthcare.

[80]Wekoweu Tsuhah, Telephonic interview with the authors, NEN, undated.

[81] Wekoweu Tsuhah, Email message to authors, Subject: “few queries from the report”, NEN,  September 24,2019,18:21

[82]Dikhwetsou Wezah, Interview, Subject: “Discussion on millet”, March 30, 2019.

[83] ibid.

[84]Women farmer’s group. Group discussion, Subject: “discussion on the millet revival”, Chizami, March 28, 2019.

[85] Wekoweu Tsuhah, Stephen Gangmei. Interview, Subject: “Introductory discussion on millet revival initiative by NEN”, NEN, March 28, 2019.

[86]ibid.

[87]Anne Pinto-Rodrigues. “Against the grain: why millet is making a comeback in rural India.” The Guardian. https://www.theguardian.com/global-development/2020/feb/25/against-the-grain-why-millet-is-enjoying-an-indian-revival-nagaland (accessed March 6, 2020).

[88] Pal, S. “A Tiny Naga Village has been Spearheading Women’s Rights & Sustainable Farming for Almost a Decade.” the Better India, August 11, 2016. https://www.thebetterindia.com/64472/women-chizami-nagaland-village/ (accessed August 18, 2019).

The authors are members of Kalpavriksh

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