Javadekar espouses alternatives to jhum cultivation

IMPHAL, Jan 8: Union Minister for Environment, Forests and Climate Change Prakash Javadekar has stressed on the need to find out an alternative to shifting/jhum cultivation with an aim to provide a sustainable livelihood to the people dependant on forest.
He was addressing a meeting with jhum cultivators of the State at State Forest Department, Sanjenthong today.
The Minister said that around three lakh people of 70,000 households are relying on jhum cultivation for livelihood in the State.
As such, it could be calculated that around 15 per cent of the total population of the State are practising jhum cultivation, which is one of the major reasons for deforestation, he said.
He said that continuous felling of trees not only leads to climate change and environment degradation but also gives a serious impact to the people who directly rely on forests for livelihood.
The Central Government would provide necessary assistance to the State Govern- ment if the latter initiates projects which intend to protect forest areas without disturbing the livelihood of the people who rely on forests, the Union Minister said.
Although jhum cultivation can be seen mostly in Central India and North East States, the method is different from one region to another, the Minister said.
People used to shift to other locations after every 7-8 years in the past, he said and added that it was later reduced to 3-4 years and now to 1-2 year(s) giving serious impact to environment.
As jhum cultivation reduces soil fertility and forest areas, the Government now needs to find out an alternative to this mode of farming, he said.
The Minister said that people may adopt bamboo plan- tation, fish farming, forestry and other horticulture and agriculture related activities as alternatives.
Moreover, Tribal Development, Horticulture, Agricul- ture and Forest Departments must jointly put in efforts to provide other vocations to villagers for ensuring their livelihood with an aim to reduce jhum cultivation, he said.
Forest and Environment Minister Th Debendra said that it is not easy to find out an alternative for jhum cultivation as most people in hill areas practice this mode of farming.
However, the State Government has been putting in effort to cut down the rate of deforestation and jhum cultivation, he said.
Saying that conservation of forest areas is a serious matter which needs urgent attention, Th Devendra expressed his desire to set up a forest protection force. Apart from Additional Chief Secretary A Baite, jhum cultivators from different forest divisions of the State were present at the function.