Focus: West Khasi Hills and Ri-bhoi districts, Meghalaya
By Sanjoy Choudhury
The author is Lecturer, Department of Geography, St. Edmund’S College, Shillong, Meghalaya. E-mail: email@example.com.
Shifting cultivation or jhum, predominantly practiced in the north-east of India is an agricultural system where a farming community slashes secondary forests on a predetermined location, burns the slash and cultivates the land for a limited number of years. The land is then left fallow and the farming community moves to the next location to repeat the process till they return back to the starting point. It has often been alleged that jhum has led to the loss of valuable natural resources of the region. This essay documents the cultivation practices of the Khasi tribe through a study of several villages of West Khasi Hills and Ri-bhoi Districts of Meghalaya with an objective of drawing lessons for developmental planning concerning natural resource management and land use in the region.
Since the earliest phase of human existence, man has always been integrally associated with nature, and thereby with land and forests. Shifting cultivation, commonly known as ‘jhum’ is one of the most ancient systems of farming believed to have originated in the Neolithic period around 7000 BC. The system is regarded as the first step in transition from food gathering and hunting to crop husbandry and is still practiced in the hilly areas of the north eastern states and in...