Shifting cultivation: towards a transformational approach

Managing transformations in shifting cultivation areas is fundamental to agricultural development in the uplands of northeast (NE) India and an important element of the Act East Policy. Transformation of shifting cultivation is therefore key to the thrust for agricultural transformation in the region. While different programmes designed to address the management of shifting cultivation have claimed drastic reductions, both in terms of area under cultivation as well as number of households involved, the Forest Survey of India’s reports over the years continue to attribute large scale deforestation and loss of forest cover in NE India to shifting cultivation (FSI, 2015). This suggest a lack of updated and authentic data on the area under shifting cultivation as well as the total number of households practicing shifting cultivation. About 8,500 sq. km of area in northeast India is shown under shifting cultivation (MoSPI, 2014), but there is inconsistency in the data of various agencies. There is an urgent need for accurate and up to date information on shifting cultivation as the design and scale of all future programmes/projects depend on this. Managing transformative change in the context of shifting cultivation requires the active involvement of multiple ministries and agencies.

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