Shifting cultivation: A tribal way of life in north east India and alternative approaches for increasing productivity
The shifting cultivation in North East India is dynamic in nature and is known as ‘Jhum’. The region is prone to a number of biophysical, institutional and socio-economical problems, resulting into subsistence agriculture with low input-low yield-low risk technology. Upland rice is the main crop grown in mixture with maize, foxtail, finger millet, beans, cassava, yam, banana, sweet potato, ginger, chillies, vegetables, etc. in such system. The single crop of rice is preferred in the second year and this continues for 2-3 years and then it is left for fertility build up through regeneration of vegetation. The period is known as ‘fallow period’. But this leads to considerable soil erosion due to heavy intense rainfall instead of increasing its fertility. The fallow period has been reduced from 10-20 years to 5-7 years. Contour bunded areas at 35 per cent slope took the shape of bench terrace in four years. The use of bench terraces, half moon terraces and grassed waterways on steep slopes (35-23 per cent) was found to be effective in checking soil erosion and retaining 80-100 per cent of annual rainfall (2300 mm/annum) in situ with various land uses. The existing form of shifting cultivation may be improved by introducing inputs of seed, fertilizer implements and other in phased manner The main objectives of developing alternatives are to harness the resource potential of the watershed (fuel, food, fodder, fruit, fibre, etc. required for local population on sustainable basis). Off farm activities such as sericulture, weaving, handicrafts out of the local materials and value addition to the farm product are needed to enhance income of tribal farmers.
How to cite this article:
Sanjay Swami. Shifting cultivation: A tribal way of life in north east India and alternative approaches for increasing productivity. Pharma Innovation 2018;7(3):380-385.