Jhum Cultivation in North East Region under Climate Change Scenario: A Critical Analysis

Background of the study:

Shifting cultivation also known as „slash and burn‟ and popularly as „Jhum‟ cultivation in North East India, is a predominant form of farming, practiced since time immemorial. An enormous amount of land (386, 900 ha.) is estimated to be brought under Jhum cultivation in North East region every year and nearly 443,000 families comprising almost of all the major tribes in North East region earn their livelihood primarily from Jhum cultivation. Although the Jhum system is aimed at maintaining high crop diversity, achieving food security through utilizing locally available organic resources for sustained yields, and cooperation/social integration on a local scale, it has often been found and reported as an inefficient and destructive practice largely contributing to deforestation, land degradation and other negative environmental consequences. The ever reducing Jhum cycle in recent period of time has put tremendous pressure on resources and has resulted in drastic decline in productivity of land, increased levels of soil erosion, hydrological imbalances and impoverishment of forest resources. Under such degraded environmental scenario, it is quite challenging to conserve the environment and biodiversity in order to restore the ecological balance as Jhumia population in North East region is shooting up day by day with associated inclination of demand for food. There is a need to increase awareness among the Jhumias regarding the negative environmental consequences of Jhum cultivation. The grim issue of climate change further adds to the stated challenge and poses threat to the livelihood of farmers in general and small and marginal peasants like Jhumias in particular. The negative impact of climate change is evident to strike hard the marginal farmers throughout the globe. The North Eastern region of India being fragile in its ecology and Jhum being practiced generally utilizing the locally available resources without adding external farm inputs is susceptible to the climate change effects. Therefore, the livelihood of Jhumias as whole will suffer from the climate change impacts in one hand and degraded environmental conditions on the other hand. In this specific context, the present study has been designed in a way to reach the following objectives.

3. Objectives

i. To document and analyze the negative environmental consequences of Jhum cultivation in North East region.

ii. To assess the extent of awareness among Jhumias regarding the negative environmental consequences of Jhum cultivation.

iii. To find out the factors governing Jhumias’ decision to continue Jhum cultivation.

iv. To analyze perception of Jhumias regarding climate change and its effect on Jhuming cycle.

v. To assess livelihood vulnerability of Jhumias to climate change impacts.


Principal Investigator :

Dr. Sudipta Paul

Scientist (Agricultural Extension),


e-mail: sudiptaiari@gmail.com


Co- investigator:

Shri. Nilim Kalita

SMS (Soil Science)

KVK, Karbi Anglong, Assam

e-mail address: nilimkalitakvk@gmail.com