Nagaland has basically an agricultural economy. Over 70% of the population is dependent on agriculture. The main crops are rice, millet, maize and pulses. Cash crops like sugarcane and potato are also becoming popular. Coffee, cardamom and tea are grown as plantation crops in Nagaland.
Rice is the dominant crop and also the staple diet of the people. Of the gross cropped area under food grains, rice accounts for about 84.4%. Oil seeds is also an important crop. It includes Rapeseed, mustard etc. Coffee cardamom and tea are grown as plantation crops in Nagaland.
Principal crops are Arums, yams, millet, maize, potatoes and sugarcane. Vegetable crops are melon, cucumbers, spinach leaf, mustard, onion, chillies, carrots, tomatoes, brinjal etc.
The two methods of cultivation among the Naga tribes are jhuming and terrace cultivation. The area under jhum cultivation is about 87.339 hectares and under terraced cultivation is about 62,091 hectares. In jhuming, the individual parcels out his field into a number of plots and cultivates a particular plot for one or two years. In the following year, he shifts to the next plot and that also is cultivated for the same period. In this way, after the rotation is completed, the first plot is taken up again. The jungle is felled and burnt and the crops are sown on the ground fertilized by ashes. The complete rotation of plots may take between six to ten years depending upon the acreage of the field. The longer this duration is, the more fertile the soil becomes and better the crops are. This method of cultivation is in vogue among the Semas, Aos and Lothas. Jhuming has its obvious disadvantages. A large area of land is required for cultivation. Besides, the crops is dependent on rainfall.
A more modern method is that of preparing terraced fields. The Angamis are experts in this art. The complete hillside is cut, beautiful terraces whose width would depend up on the gradient of the feature, are made. The fields are irrigated by a net work of water channels. Normally the terraces are so graduated that water flows down conveniently from one terrace to the other below it, and so on. Bamboo pipes are used to regulate the flow of water. The excavating of the terraces requires a colossal effort, and one marvels at the amount of human energy expended in cutting them into shape, but these terraced fields, once prepared, are much easier to maintain than the jhum plots. They have also the advantage of being closer to the village site. The State Government is trying to persuade the villagers to change over from jhuming to terracing. The Government is in fact, making all out efforts to improve the agriculture. It has under taken a number of irrigation projects, supplied pumping set to farmers, started community Development projects, set up seed farms and established an agricultural research centre. As a result of these measures, there has already been a sustained increase in the tonnage of rice produced.