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Shifting Cultivation in Manipur:Land, Labour and Environment


  • Institute for Social and Economic Change, Dr. VKRV Rao Road, Nagarabhavi PO, Bengaluru – 560072 (Karnataka), India


Shifting cultivation is the main source of livelihood system in the hill areas of Manipur, one of the north-eastern States in India. It is widely prevalent due to lack of alternative farm employment. Its inputs are crude and traditional in nature resulting in subsistence income. Shifting cultivation is labour-intensive and has a traditional character. Empirical evidence shows that rapid population growth has increased the use of forest land for shifting cultivation in Manipur. The system's cycle has substantially declined due to population pressure on land thereby reducing the productivity. It has resulted in environmental degradation and problems of forest land re-vegetation. It has also led to a huge loss of forest resources every year. Its production is mostly organic due to sparingly use of inorganic fertilisers. Institutional changes in the form of private ownership of land have resulted in commercialisation of forest products like timber and firewood. Land use and forest laws need to be strengthened to safeguard and protect forest land. Ensuring food security and restructuring of land ownership system from community to private may reduce the practice of shifting cultivation and conserve forest cover.

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