The Mizoram government will introduce a New Land Use Policy (NLUP) to help farmers move away from the traditional slash-and-burn method of cultivation to more sustainable land-based means of livelihood, state Governor M.M. Lakhera said Wednesday.
'A Rs.2,527-crore NLUP has been taken up for sustainable land-based economic activities and to remove the age-old 'jhum' cultivation in the state,' the governor said in his customary speech on the opening day of the week-long budget session of the state assembly.
'The approval for the proposal is in the final stage by the Planning Commission,' he said.
The tribals in the hilly terrain of the northeastern states have for generations been carrying out the traditional slash-and-burn method of cultivation, locally called jhum, which has resulted in degradation of forest land and worsening of the soil condition.
According to the governor, in the first five years, the NLUP aims to support 120,000 families. He said the departments of agriculture, horticulture, veterinary, industries, forest, fisheries, sericulture and soil and water conservation would be involved in the scheme.
About 80 percent of farmers in Mizoram still depend on jhum cultivation that involves clearing of forests and burning trees, weeds and bamboos.
Every year many people die in jhum fires. Since February this year, at least seven people have died in the jhum fires in Mizoram.
The governor said the NLUP would restore ecological balance by providing the farmers sustainable and permanent land-based means of livelihood.
'The NLUP also aims to create 21,480 hectares of bamboo plantation to benefit 10,740 families.'
Despite the slash-and-burn system of cultivation, Mizoram has a large forest cover area with 75.77 percent of the total land.
'The NLUP intends to keep 60 percent of the state's total geographical area under forest cover and the remaining 40 percent for land-based development,' Lakhera said.
The state government has also endorsed the draft approach to the 11th Five Year Plan, especially in agriculture sector for sustainable development as well as self-sufficiency in food grain production.
'The main strategies would include accelerating the GDP (gross state domestic product) growth in agriculture sector to around 4 percent and larger investment of private sector through farming,' the governor said.