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Jhum (Shifting) Cultivation

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Jhum (Shifting) cultivation is a primitive practice of cultivation in States of North Eastern Hill Region of India and people involved in such cultivation are called Jhumia. The practice involves clearing vegetative/forest cover on land/slopes of hills, drying and burning it before onset of monsoon and cropping on it thereafter. After harvest, this land is left fallow and vegetative regeneration is allowed on it till the plot becomes reusable for same purpose in a cycle. Meanwhile, the process is repeated in a new plot designated for Jhum cultivation during next year. Initially, when Jhum cycle was long and ranged from 20 to 30 years, the process worked well. However, with increase in human population and increasing pressure on land, Jhum cycle reduced progressively (5-6 years) causing problem of land degradation and threat to ecology of the region at large.

Watershed Development Project in Shifting Cultivation Areas (WDPSCA) was taken up in seven States of North Eastern Region with 100% SCA as per directions of National Development Council (NDC) in 1994-95. Recently, under National Afforestation Programme, problem of jhum cultivation was given special focus. Mid-term appraisal of Eleventh Five Year Plan mentions that as per report of Ministry of Rural Development, only 6.5 per cent of households have been reportedly engaged in shiting cultivation in the country. The percentage of area under jhum cultivation is 9.5 in North-Eastern region, while it is 0.5 per cent for central tribal belt.

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