Tobacco Cultivation in Nagaland: Production, Usage, and Sustainability

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Discover the role of tobacco cultivation in Nagaland’s agriculture and economy, how it’s used for traditional Naga tobacco products, and the sustainable farming practices employed by farmers in the state.

Production, Usage, and Sustainability


Nagaland, located in northeast India, is renowned for its scenic beauty, vibrant cultural heritage, and festivals. Agriculture also plays a significant role in the economy here – providing livelihood to many residents due to fertile land, abundant rainfall, and an ideal climate. With these attributes combined, agriculture flourishes here!

One of Nagaland’s most significant aspects of agriculture is cultivating cash crops. Cash crops are products grown solely for sale, providing income to farmers and the state’s economy. In this article, we’ll look at the primary cash crop grown here: bananas – its role and significance in agriculture and economics.

What is the Main Cash Crop of Nagaland?

Tobacco is the primary cash crop of Nagaland. Grown extensively across the state, tobacco production provides farmers with a reliable source of income. Tobacco cultivation has a longstanding tradition in Nagaland that continues to shape its culture and tradition.

Nagaland boasts tobacco cultivation in almost all districts, with Peren, Kohima, and Mokokchung being the three major growing regions. Farming occurs on small-scale and large-scale farms; yields vary from farm to farm.

Nagaland’s tobacco cultivation is a multi-staged endeavor. Let us examine each stage in greater depth.

Preparing the Land

Before planting tobacco, preparation must be done on the land. Plowed, harrowed, and leveled surfaces are all done to ensure it’s suitable for cultivation. Furthermore, soil testing determines its pH level and nutrient content; if needed, fertilizers may be added for improved nutrition.

Planting Tobacco Seeds

Tobacco seeds are planted in nurseries and carefully nurtured until they can be transplanted. After sowing the seeds in prepared soil, regular watering and maintenance are required until the seedlings reach six weeks old and can be safely moved onto the main field.


They are planted in rows to transplant tobacco seedlings to a primary field. The distance between rows and plants is carefully measured to ensure each plant receives sufficient space to grow. Furthermore, stakes are used as support systems which help keep them upright and prevent them from falling over.


Caring for tobacco plants involves several activities, such as weeding, watering, and pest control. Weeding is essential to ensure the plants get enough nutrients and water while competing with weeds for these resources. To prevent plants from withering, watering should be done regularly (especially during dry spells). Furthermore, pest control helps guard against damage caused by insects or other plant pests.


Tobacco plants are ready for harvest when their leaves turn yellow or brown. Harvested manually and sorted according to size and quality, then hung to dry in specially designed curing barns exposed to heat and air for several weeks; this helps reduce the moisture content of the leaves while improving flavor.

Facts about tobacco cultivation in Nagaland

Nagaland’s rank in tobacco cultivation in India3rd
Total area under tobacco cultivation in Nagaland32,000 hectares
Total production of tobacco in Nagaland20,000 metric tonnes
Average yield of tobacco in Nagaland625 kg per hectare
Number of households engaged in tobacco cultivation in Nagaland75,000
Percentage of tobacco farmers in Nagaland who are women35%
Percentage of tobacco cultivation in Nagaland that is organic90%
Total export value of Naga tobacco products in 2020INR 55 crore
Top export destinations for Naga tobacco productsMyanmar and Bhutan

These numbers highlight the significant role that tobacco cultivation plays in Nagaland’s agriculture and economy, as well as the state’s potential for sustainable and organic farming practices. It’s important to note, however, that tobacco consumption has harmful health effects and efforts should be made to promote alternative crops and livelihoods for tobacco farmers.

Fact Sheet


  • Is tobacco the only cash crop grown in Nagaland?

    No, Nagaland also cultivates other cash crops such as tea, cardamom, ginger, and turmeric – though these quantities are smaller compared to tobacco production, they still contribute significantly to the agriculture and economic development of the state.

  • How is tobacco used in Nagaland?

    In Nagaland, tobacco is mainly employed to create traditional Naga tobacco products such as khaini, zarda, and suki. These items are consumed locally and exported elsewhere in India and neighboring countries.

  • Does tobacco cultivation harm the environment?

    Like all crops, tobacco farming has its effects on the environment. But farmers in Nagaland have adopted sustainable farming practices to minimize this impact on their land. These include using organic fertilizers and pesticides and encouraging crop rotation for maximum environmental benefit.


Tobacco is the main cash crop of Nagaland and plays an integral role in agriculture and the economy. Cultivation has a longstanding tradition here, yet farmers have adopted sustainable farming practices to minimize environmental harm. Nagaland boasts abundant natural resources and an ideal climate for cultivating various cash crops; hence, its agriculture sector holds great promise for growth and development in the near future.

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