Sinlung /
07 August 2012

'Jhum' Practice Affecting Ecology of Mizoram

Aizawl, Aug 7 : Global warming is the biggest challenge of the present world for its environmental impact. In this age of global climate change, resource use and management practices that depend on the use of fire that emit carbon are coming under increased pressure.

This is particularly the case with shifting cultivation which is also known as ‘Jhum’ in Mizoram.

Baharul Islam Laskar of the Department of Economics of Government Aizawl West College who has made an analysis on the impact of global warming on shifting cultivation said the practice is devastating.

He added to say the shifting cultivation has a far-reaching consequence in supplementing global warming and degrading the environment, besides ecology of the region.

Baharul Islam Laskar, whose findings have been compiled in the abstracts of the ‘Global Ecosystems, Biodiversity and Environmental Sustainability in the 21st Century’ published by the department of ecology and environmental science, Assam University, said it is commonly believed that ‘jhum’ was a sustainable system in the past when gap periods were long.

But, with increasing population pressure ‘jhum’ cycles have declined and become unsustainable. The earlier 15 to 20 year cycle of cultivation has come down to 2 to 3 years presently.

It has resulted in large scale deforestation, soil and nutrient loss and invasion by weeds and other species. The biodiversity of the areas has been adversely affected.

Baharul Islam Laskar points out shifting cultivation is the traditional way of cultivation in north eastern states. The system is based on ‘slash and burn’ method of cultivation and is characterized by rotation of field rather than crops.

The current practice of shifting cultivation in Mizoram is an extravagant and unscientific method of land use. Around 63 per cent of the total cropped area in Mizoram, according to his study, is under this traditional method of cultivation.

Baharul Islam Laskar whose study is based on secondary data and information has made an analysis of the various ill effects of ‘jhum’ cultivation on the ecology and socio-economic life of the tribal people of region.

In view of the devastating effect of ‘jhum’ cultivation, he has suggested other alternatives of livelihood to the local population, besides adoption of suitable measures so that the shifting cultivation can be made sustainable for generations to come.

The best way is to wean away and motivate the farmers in Mizoram to do away with the practice of ‘jhum’ and take up the scientific and modern method of cultivation. A strategy has to be worked out by the Centre in coordination with the State in this respect.

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