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Record ID: SCST/1967/0244
Document Type: Journal
Title: Adivasi - v9_No.1
Editor/Author: SN Mishra
N Das
Keywords: Adivasi
Shifting Cultivation
Sector: Indigenous Practices
University: Scheduled Castes & Scheduled Tribes Research and Training Institute (SCSTRTI), Bhubaneswar, 751003
Completed Date: Apr-1967
Abstract: Shifting cultivation is an age old tradition of many backward tribal groups. In Orissa backward tribes like the Saora, Kotia Khond, Dongria Khond, Bonda high landers, Hill Juang and Paudi Bhuiya are basically shifting cultivators. They practice slash and burn method on the hill slopes and broadcast millets, beans, oil-seeds and niger on the hill. These seeds grow up during rainy season and the crops are harvested in autumn. Paucity of wet land compels these tribal groups to resort to shifting cultivation which causes soil erosion and destruction of forests. From time to time the Forest Department has tried to curb widespread shifting cultivation. Even then the practice continues unabated. Efforts were made in last 20 years to settle these shifting cultivating tribes on land. Colonies were established for a few families and they were provided with land, agricultural implements and live-stock along with permanent houses in those colonies. However, it has been found that these re-settlement colonies have not succeeded to any great extent in eradicating the practice of shifting cultivation. Firstly, the land provided in those colonies are mostly dry land without facilities of irrigation. This actually does not secure good crops. For the first year they get some crops but in subsequent years the yield becomes poorer leading to dejection among the settlers, as a result of which they lose interest in settled life, and revert to traditional one. Land reclamation particularly in forest areas has to be done systematically. The tree stumps which stand on the land make cultivation a difficult process. The cultural fixation of the tribals in the traditional practice of shifting cultivation deter them from giving up this practice and adopting completely a new mode of life. The forest which is destroyed in Belghar and other parts of Phulbani by shifting cultivation presents a deplorable sight. Perhaps a few trees which are cut in Belghar by the Kotia Khond to prepare hill clearings will be much more valuable than the crops which are produced on the cleared lands. It is all right to say that this practice should be checked with a strong hand. But so far there has not been an alternative to cure this malady. Students of Anthropology and others who study the tribals have advocated a better mode of life for the shifting cultivating tribals to wean them away from shifting cultivation. A permanent solution has to be sought now for this purpose. It was suggested by a UNESCO study team from Indonesia that slopes below 10 per cent gradient may be left for shifting cultivation as soil erosion is lesser in those slopes. The higher slopes should not be brought under hoe cultivation. Simultaneously, it is to be seen that shifting cultivation being a traditional mode of life cannot be abruptly put to an end by administrative pressure. This practice has, therefore, to go side by side with other methods of cultivation. In course of time when the tribals feel that a different mode of cultivation produces better results than the present one they are bound to show preference for the former. For this purpose, the authorities should provide suitable cultivable lands, properly reclaim those land and provide source of irrigation. Moreover, terracing of slopes for which there is super ingenuity of certain tribals like the Saora may be encouraged. The terraces are fed by hill-streams and produce double crop of paddy. This practice should be encouraged among the Saora. This may also be introduced in other areas and the tribals in those areas may be encouraged to learn this. Till other methods of cultivation are readily available and are fully adopted by the tribals the practice of shifting cultivation may have to continue in spite of all its deleterious effects.
Pagination: 71
Tribal Research Institutes: SC/ST Research & Training Institute, Odisha
Record ID: SCST/1967/0244
Appears in Collections:Tribal Affairs

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