Shifting Cultivation in India

Shifting Cultivation refers to the form of cultivation where a large area is cultivated for few years and then abandoned for some time until the fertility of the land is restored naturally.

Process: By the time of the sowing season the earth is covered with a layer of ashes. Then seeds are scattered, and rarely sown in these ashes. After some time the seeds take root and grow, nourished by an occasional shower of rain. The crops are scare and of inferior quality. In a few years’ time the spoil becomes impoverished in the absence of ploughing and manuring, and a new stretch of the forest is brought under the axe.

In tribal India shifting cultivation is widely prevalent, though it is known by different names.

  • The Naga call it Jhum Cultivation;
  • The Bhuiya distinguish two forms of it, dahi and koman;
  • The Maria of Bastar calls it penda;
  • The Khond refer to it as podu;
  • And the Baiga call it bewar.

Shifting axe-cultivation consists of felling trees on a hill-side a little before the sowing season and setting them on fire.

If all the trees are cut down, then the Bhuiya call it ‘dahi’ if only bushes and shrubs are placed round the trees and then burnt, they call it koman.

Disadvantages: Shifting cultivation has come under severe criticism from nearly all imaginable quarters.

  • It has been characterized as inefficient, uneconomic and