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Rehabilitation And Development Of Jhumias In North East India : Challenges And Prospects

Jhum is a process of cultivation that has been practiced in northeast India for many years. Jhum is a process of cultivation that has worked well in the past, but is now creating problems for residents, as population increases have taken a toll on the process of Jhum cultivation. The people who practice Jhum cultivation are called Jhumia. The process originally ran about a 30-year cycle, but now runs at a 5-6 year cycle, increasing levels of destruction and disallowing regeneration of the land. This cultivation practice is one example of ancient practices that are no long sufficient for the population.

Jhum cultivation is a process of cultivating land by clearing large slopes of land on the sides of hills. The slope is dried and burned in preparation for the monsoon season and then planting of crops. After this process has been completed and the crops have been harvested, regeneration of the land occurs. Throughout history, this land was left for a period of about 30 years for regeneration purposes. However recently the population increase in the region has made the Jhumias rush through the process, and they have began re-cultivating the land after only 5-6 years. This is a problem because the land is not being allowed to regenerate and instead is being cultivated at a rapid rate. This rapid cultivation is damaging to the ecology of the land and promoted degradation of the land.

It is vitally important that the land used for cultivation be able to regenerate so that it can come back to the original nature. The ecology of the land is very important to the Jhumias and the process of cultivation, because the land will continue to degrade over time if it is not well taken care of. The land will be burned too many times within a short period of time, and the land will be damaged underneath the surface and down into the ground. In order to cultivate crops, the land must contain its vital nutrients and soil content for growth of plants and crops. Therefore, it is very important that the land be allowed to naturally regenerate rather than forcing the land to be cultivated before the land has been able to fully restore itself. The Jhumian people require more education on the process so they can allow the land to regenerate before beginning the process again.