BE BureauA land shrouded in mystery and inhabited by a vibrant population passionately safeguarding their culture – dancers, warriors, head-hunters - form the portrait of Nagaland. From the essential mysticism to hosting the global Hornbill festival, Nagaland has come a long way, etching its name in the world’s tourism map. Interestingly, the state has shown how coffee plantation can be an alternative way of self-employment.In India, coffee is the second most important beverage crop next only to tea. In the international market, Indian coffee has created a niche for itself. The Indian Robusta is highly preferred for its excellent blending quality. However, India contributes only a small portion of the world’s coffee production (around 2.5%). The two main varieties in India are Coffee Arabica and Coffee Robusta - with 49% and 51% share of cultivation area respectively.The north-eastern states of India are categorised as non-traditional areas for coffee cultivation. They possess favourable soil and climatic conditions along with promising technological and economic feasibility. These conditions provide Nagaland with immense scope and potential for coffee plantation. Moreover, coffee is a high-value plantation crop. It has significant economic significance as it is potentially a high foreign exchange earner. Coffee was first grown in Nagaland in the 1980s. However, initially, it failed because of the lack of management and unavailability of market. It was only in 2015, that the Department of Land Resources attempted to revive coffee plantations. With an objective to promote Nagaland coffee and encourage educated unemployed youths to take up coffee plantation as an alternative to employment, the Department of Land Resources has been promoting ‘Naga Coffee’ at Kisama since 2015 by opening a stall, where different varieties of Nagaland coffee are being served every day. Since then, coffee plantation has been an intrinsic part of the state’s culture and has gained importance and large-scale popularity. The department also works in close association with the Coffee Board of India. Presently, the state is exporting Nagaland coffee to South Africa and a memorandum of understanding (MoU) on ‘marketing’ was signed in 2016 with the Government of Nagaland. In 2019, 17 MT of Nagaland coffee was exported to South Africa.In the hilly and the low-lying areas of Nagaland, both Arabica and Robusta have been found to be viable for cultivation. Arabica is suitable at the higher elevations (800 metres and above the sea-level) and Robusta is suitable at lower elevations (between 300 and 800 metres) above the sea-level.According to the Department of Land Resources Development, Nagaland, it has been estimated that a total area of 10,40,100 hectares (3,55,300 hectares for Robusta and 6,84,800 hectares for Arabica) is suitable for coffee plantation, which is about 67% of the total geographical area of the state. At present, about 7996.2 hectares are already covered under coffee plantation. Kohima is the district having the highest number of plantations with 34 lakh saplings covering 89 villages. In March, 2019, District Project Officer, Menuosietuo Tseikha informed the media that the total number of plantations was 2344551 with the total number of villages covered being 72. He also stated that the government was planning to cover more areas in the coming years. In Mokokchung, Zuheboto, Wokha, Mon and Kohima districts, over 1000 farmers are involved in coffee cultivation.There are also various advantages that are involved with coffee cultivation. Coffee growing helps in reduction of soil erosion and acts as a useful carbon sink. It aids in good watershed management and helps in maintaining biodiversity, particularly in systems with mixed cropping on small family farms. It can also provide a good habitat for migratory birds and other animals.According to industry insiders, due to climate change, a lot of coffee producing countries have shifted to other crops. However, the demand for coffee still remains high, especially in Europe and in West Asian countries. This provides a golden opportunity to Nagaland’s coffee.