NAGALAND LOSES 30.62 MTOF SOIL PER HECTARE REVEALS REPORT
Nagaland loses 30.62 MT of soil per hectare due to jhumming (shifting) cultivation as per the reports by the State’s soil and water conservation department.
KEY-FACTS OF THE REPORT
- The annual report of the department reports the annual average loss of land area in Nagaland is in the form of soil erosion and ‘turbulent velocity of run-off’.
- The main reason for soil erosion is the emergence of a new class of shifting cultivators, who reduced the earlier 15-20 year cycle of shifting cultivation on a particular land to 2-3 years now.
- It has resulted in large-scale deforestation, soil and nutrient loss, and by the way affecting the indigenous biodiversity to a large extent.
- 1,35,339 rural households practice shifting cultivation to 947.37 sq km of land on hill slopes, which is 5.71% of the State’s geographical area.
- Jhum cultivation or slash & burn agricultural system or shifting cultivation is an age-old agricultural practice by the ethnic tribal communities and it is mainly prevalent in the north-eastern states of India.
- It is one of the anthropogenic and unscientific forms of land use which is influencing the biodiversity to disturb the ecological balance of the region.
NAGALAND & JHUM CULTIVATION
- Naga method of jhum cultivation is the most elaborate and more innovative farming system when compared to other jhum practices around the world.
- Within a hectare of jhum land, a Naga farmer grows more than 40 crops annually. Within this incredible space economy, the farmers employ a variety of cropping practices such as stratified, canopy, sequential, mixed cropping and others.
- Buring of forest cover: For jhum cultivation, farmers generally select a forest region and clear the vegetation. Thereafter, they burn it and during burning, small cut-trunk portion and roots are not removed.(December and January). Then, the herbs, shrubs, and branches (slashed vegetation) are burnt (February and March).
- Cultivation: Sowing of seeds is followed during April and May.Then, the farmers continue the cultivation for a few years and abandon the cultivated site and shift to other forest sites.
- Abandoning& returning: After that, they will return to the former site and once again start practice cultivation on it. The second year of jhumming cycle is more hazardous for the environment than the first year.
- The Jhum cultivation has long been blamed for the deleterious effect on the local environment creating ecological imbalance, rapid drying up of small water resources, and loss of land productivity.
- Loss of nutrient and topsoil: It has resulted in large-scale deforestation, soil and nutrient loss, and by the way affecting the indigenous biodiversity to a large extent.
- The decrease in forest cover: Jhum cultivation has a drastic effect on the decrease of forest area, the main disturbance of forest is due to rampant logging practices and practice of un-demarcated cycle of jhum cultivation.
- Ecological imbalance: Frequent shifting has affected the ecology of the cultivated region. Fragmentation of habitat, the local disappearance of native species and invasion of exotic weeds are its outcomes.
- Economic Loss:It leads to a reduction in family income of farmers and enhancement of poverty in absence of any subsidiary income.
- The Nagaland State government has been trying to encourage farmers to take up other alternatives to farming.
WHY GOVT DO NOT DISCARD THE PRACTICE
- Jhum has been a democratic and traditional mode of farming for the Nagas and stopping it will disrupt their culture.
- Discarding the practice may emerge as a cultural burden and dislocate community efforts, which has been kindling of the Naga way of farming.
Considering the fact that jhum cultivation is a huge problem for the ecology, the State government should take some steps to conserve the environment without harming the Naga community in any way. Farmers should be educated about other methods of farming and should encourage to take up alternative methods of farming. Some demarcated place for farming should be allocated to them and the appropriate long cycle of at least eight years and above on practice of jhum on a particular land should be recommended to them. Few innovative steps will help in reducing the adverse effects of jhum cultivation, it will lead to enhancement of environment as well as Naga community.