First Naga Mircha festival held in Kohima district


Seiyahama: About 40 km from Kohima town, residents celebrated the first Naga Mircha (Cold King) festival on Saturday, which was held in the council hall of Seiyhama village, Chiephobozou Tehsil, Kohima district. The first festival of its kind was hosted and organized by the Seiyhama Village Council and the producers of Seiyhama Naga Mircha and sponsored by the Department of Horticulture.

The hottest cold in the world was celebrated with great fervor as the Speaker of the 11th Constituency of the Assembly of Northern Angami (NA)-II of the Nationalist Democratic Progressive Party (NDPP), Vibeilietuo Kets, inaugurated the one-day festival. Naga Mircha, also known as Bhut Jolokia, is considered the hottest in the world based on Scoville Heat Units (SHU).

The spiciness of the Naga Mircha was certain as chillies put up for sale and decorative pieces filled the air in the festival arena, along with the conglomeration of people, regardless of age and background.

The Chairman of Seiyhama Village Council, Lhoulalie Zumu, informed that about 70% of the land in the village belongs to the community and 30% is private land.

He said the farmers have the freedom to grow Raja Mircha on the community lands to earn a living, which has led to the mass production of the king chili in the village.

Despite last year’s drought situation which diminished the Naga Mircha crop, he said about Rs 27 lakh was generated by the farmers. This year, residents are expecting a revenue outcome of Rs 1 crore.

“Our harvest continues and we are uncertain, but that is what we expect. In every household, at least an income of around Rs 60,000 to Rs 70,000 is expected through the Raja Mircha culture. For those with a bigger crop, their income can be around Rs 4-5 lakh, depending on their fields,” he added.

Presenting the week-long harvest at the one-day festival, Zumu said, “Although we cannot calculate the total harvest, there are around 400 to 500 boxes of chilies.” Locals sell royal chillies in terms of a can which is equivalent to about three and a half kilograms.

Talking about the cultivation process, he said the search for a fertile field, especially a bamboo groove, is around July-October, followed by clearing around November and December.

Then, the burning of the cleared land takes place from January to March. It is at this time that the seeds of the royal peppers are made. Once the cold plants are fit for growth, they are then transplanted into cool soil.

He informed that in August the royal fruiting takes place and the earliest harvest is around July. However, most of the harvest is around August and September.

With the chilly king’s mass cultivation in the village, he said a large number of educated unemployed youths have also returned to the village and are now engaging in Naga Mircha cultivation and production.

The village chairman also thanked the state government and the union government for helping the farmers in the cultivation. He added that if agricultural link roads are built with government support, production can be improved on a larger scale, even in the domestic and international market.

The festival’s special guest, Vibeilietuo Kets, said he was delighted with the cultivation of the famous Naga King pepper by people across the state, realizing its importance and booming market value.

He praised Seiyhama Village for adopting the chilly king’s mass cultivation, even introducing a variety of species.

Kets enlisted the Department of Horticulture to impart the knowledge and technical support needed by the villagers to increase production. He also urged villagers to find ways to make their produce available in the market all year round.

He also challenged educated young people entering the profession to find innovative ways to market the product. He also said farmers should learn food processing and preservation methods to expand their businesses.

He also informed that the recently launched Chief Ministers Micro-finance Scheme will also be helpful to farmers.

Kets added that the festival is a red day for the people of Nagaland. He also advised farmers to produce quality organic produce at reasonable rates to sustain the business.

The district horticulture officer, S Senka Jamir, said in a brief note that Seiyhama is a village blessed with fertile land. As the native Chilly King carries the geographic identification (GI) tag “Naga Mircha”, he urged people to use the term as it is.

He informed that about 100 acres of land has been identified in Botsa region, mostly in Seiyhama village, as dedicated farmers are dedicated and fertile soils which are well suited for the growth of Raja Mircha.

While Peren and Mon districts are the biggest producers, but Raja Mircha, said Kohima district also has the potential to be a big producer.

Since the government has recommended the identification of local products at the village level, it has stated that Seiyhama village can also claim Raja Mircha as its agricultural specialization. He also encourages farmers to work hard by saying that progressive farmers have the opportunity to visit foreign countries to learn about agriculture globally.

Jamir mentioned that Nagaland has diverse agro-climatic conditions, favorable for the production of all types of fresh fruits, vegetables, medicinal plants, spices, etc. In this regard, he added that awareness of storage and processing methods also increases product availability, job opportunities and income generation.

He observed that the current generation has developed a health consciousness, for which the demand for organic fruits and vegetables has increased.

The demand for horticultural products, he said, is greater than the supply and so the opportunity to earn a living is high.

He pointed out that the sector has a high return and, together with government assistance in the form of programs, financial aids, etc., encourages innovative methods and the improvement of technology in the process of cultivation and production.

He further added that the horticulture industry offers a variety of both direct and indirect employment opportunities with very basic skill levels.

Meanwhile, varieties of Naga Mircha found in Seiyhama include Sidi Sirü Chüsi (known for its round shape), Sidi Chüsi (the finest and largest royal pepper), Sidi Sikra Chüsi (known for its white color), and Siyhaü Chüsi (named after the village and known for its unique brown color).

The Naga Mircha, ranging from Rs 900-Rs 1300 were sold at the festival. Naga Mircha lovers from across the district attended the festival, which is likely the first of its kind in the state, for royal chillies.

Besides hundreds of kilograms of fresh Naga Mircha, dried and pickled Naga Mirchas were also sold. Its seeds and plants were also sold and exhibited. Festival guests also received the Naga Mircha.

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