At the time of the inception of the NEC, the area under cultivation was roughly over 12 percent, which made a huge gap between the demand & supply of agricultural commodities in the region.
The constraints that hampered increase in the production were a)Availability of high quality seed of improved variety, b)Irrigation facilities, c )Transport bottleneck in the movement of fertilizer.
To overcome the above mentioned constraints, the NEC took a step forward to nullify the constraints in the following ways:
The NEC planned to establish 3 seed farms one each in Assam, Tripura and Manipur.These farms put together were expected to produce about 630 tonnes of foundation seeds which would give 23,600 tonnes of certified seeds adequate to cover a reasonably large area in the region.The second constraint in the spread of high yielding varieties in the plains was inadequacy of irrigation facilities. The ground water potential was enough but there was a need to enhance its utilization and, for that purpose, the NEC disbursed an amount of 46 lakhs during 1974-75 which was placed at the disposal ofthe Central Ground Water Board and an amount ofRs. 2 crores was earmarked for the same during the Sixth Five Year Plan. A predominant problem of agriculture in the hilly portion of this region, which comprised 70% of the area, was the practice of Shifting cultivation, known as Thurn cultivation. Shifting cultivation leads to destruction of natural resources, as it destroys the forests, results in soil erosion, silts the rivers causing floods, silts up reservoirs and dams. To overcome this problem, the NEC, in its Fifth Five Year Plan, took up 8 pilot projects for the settlement of Jhumias at a cost of Rs 497 lakhs upto March, 1979. Under this programme 5295 families were settled after developing an area of 11,300 hectares. The NEC also undertook pilot schemes for the Watershed management with the help of expert consultant agencies, which in the process trained one team from each State/ Union Territory in the NER in watershed planning and management and helped each constituent unit to build up its own cell for the purpose offuture implementation.
The description above is, by no means, an exhaustive one and the NEC has done a lot in improving the agro-economy ofthe region. The projects talked about here, again, do not form an exhaustive list. The endeavour that we are making here is aimed at giving a brief overview of the expanse of NEC planning.