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Nagaland - Economy

Most Nagas practice non-irrigated shifting cultivation of the slash-and-burn type to some extent. The practice is termed jhuming, and the areas thus cultivated are jhums. The normal procedure involves clearing forest land along high ridges and burning the dried trees to increase fertility of the soil. The land is worked with hoes or similar implements (not ploughs), and one or two crops are raised before it is abandoned to fallow for a number of years. Sedentary village life is possible in conjunction with agriculture of this type since villages or tribes maintain a number of jhuming areas exploited in rotation.

The dynamics of poverty in Nagaland are quite different from other parts of the country. Due to strong community spirit and social capital, the poor are looked after, and cared for, by kith and kin and the community. As a result, there is no case of starvation deaths and no one is shelterless.

The net state domestic product (NSDP) of Nagaland has shown an increase from Rs. 10,547 lakh in 1980–81 to Rs. 57,898 lakh in 1990–91 (at constant 1980–81 prices) and to Rs. 223,042 lakh during 2000–01 (at constant 1993–94 prices). The per capita income in the State increased from Rs. 1361 during 1980–81 to Rs. 5520 during 1990–91. During 2000–01, per capita income was Rs. 11,473 (at constant 1993–94 prices) as against Rs. 10,306 for the country as a whole. [the conversion rate for Indian Rupee (INR) to United States Dollar (USD) is about 1 USD = 65 INR].

The developmental experience of Nagaland has been full of challenges. Apart from its late start, geographical remoteness and inaccessibility, hilly terrain, lack of infrastructure, population composition, and scarce resource base, the State also had to face continuous insurgency, spending much of its resources on administration and related costs at the expense of development.

The majority of the workforce of the State is either in the rural areas or in the unorganised urban sector. Naga society was and continues to be predominantly agrarian. Agriculture (27.48%), construction (15.43%), transport and communication (18.14%) and public administration (12.73%) comprise three-fourths of the State’s NSDP. The near absence of contribution from manufacturing (0.74%) and banking and insurance (1.32%) reflects the lack of industrial activity in Nagaland and the weak supporting environment.

Agriculture has traditionally been and continues to be the mainstay of Naga life - the numerous festivals are centered on agriculture and have their roots in cultivation practices. Seventy-three percent of the people in Nagaland are engaged in agriculture. Rice is the staple food. It occupies about 70 percent of the total cultivated area and constitutes about 75 percent of the total food grain production in the State. Other crops include maize, linseed, potato, pulses, soya bean, sugarcane, jute, gram, cotton, castor, etc. However, like most of the world's tribal population, the production system in Nagaland has been close to proto-agriculture, which has enabled close links between nature and people from Generation to generation.

These linkages and traditional practices have been formalised through experiences and empirical observations, and interwoven with social, religious and traditional values. The impact of modern scientific practices has not been appreciable as most high external input technologies are not suitable for high altitudes and rain-fed conditions.

The forest cover is 80.49 percent of the total area of Nagaland. As such, forests represent the richest natural resource of the State. Nagaland is also very rich in biodiversity with abundance of animal, insect and plant species. The State has a wealth of herbal, medicinal and aromatic plants with tremendous economic potentials.

The rail network in Nagaland is nominal (13 km). The only airport in the State is at Dimapur. Surface transport is the main method of communication in this land-locked hilly State. This has resulted in the development of an impressive network of public and private sector road transport system. The road length of national highways is 365.38 km and of state roads is 1094 km. During 1996–97, the road density was 1107 per thousand sq. km as against the all India road density of 749 per thousand sq. km. However, road transport has been handicapped by inadequate development and poor maintenance of roads.

Most of the Naga villages are located on hilltops, which made supply of drinking water a challenging task. Therefore, water has to be normally supplied, through gravity, from a source located at a higher altitude than the village. The number of villages having protected water supply sources in 1963 was only 59. By 2004, 1304 (fully covered–261, partially covered–1043) of the 1376 villages/habitations (approximately 95%) had been provided with drinking water supply.

The state has abundant resources of mineral wealth in the form of vast deposits of Oil, Coal, Peat, Limestone, Iron ores and various other minerals. The potential of this state in terms of the sheer variety of Agro and Horticultural produce including Fiber, Tea, Coffee, Pineapple, Orange etc. is also immense.

Coal, limestone, nickel, cobalt, chromium, magnetite, copper, zinc, and recently discovered platinum, petroleum and natural gas are the major minerals available in Nagaland. The State has huge caches of unutilized and unexploited limestone, marble, granite, petroleum and natural gas. Coal is found in Nazira, Borjan and Teru valley of Mon district. Limestone of grey to whitish grey colour is found at Wazeho and Satuza in Phek district and at Nimi belt in Tuensang district. Ores of nickeliferrous chromite-magnetite occur in the Ultra Basic Belt at Pokhpur in Tuensang district. Nagaland is yet to fully explore its huge estimated reserves of natural oil.

The hydrocarbons are found in the western portion of Nagaland, where connectivity is available in the foothills. The metallic and non-metallic minerals are located in the remote and backward eastern parts bordering Myanmar, ideal for export to the South East Asian region. If the discovered minerals are economically exploited, these would turn out to be a rich resource base and the mineral-related trade can make a huge contribution to the State economy. Unfortunately, though the potential exists, not much has been achieved so far due to funding and planning process constraints. In this connection, the proposed 'X Road' of the Government could provide good connectivity for exploiting the mineral wealth of the State and for trade and commerce both in the State and the country and with South East and East Asian countries.

In spite of this inherent potential, the state has not developed. The current practice of agriculture is largely unsustainable owing to the traditional Jhum (Shifting cultivation) cycle mode of operation. Though some dynamic initiatives (e.g., by various Govt. Depts. NGOs etc.) are in action to mitigate the detrimental effects of Jhum, a lot still needs to be done on various fronts including efforts on checking deforestation, control of wild fire, conservation of biodiversity, proper water harvesting, use of non-conventional energy sources etc. The state also lacks infrastructure development in terms of networking with the rest of the country, lack of proper communication in terms of roads and information technology.

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Page last modified: 19-02-2018 14:42:33 ZULU