Developing awareness and skills of the land users on measures of Jhum intensification & optimization in Mizoram, India

Published: 02 July 2020
Last edited: 25 September 2020
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Jhum as a farming practice is mostly found in the North East India and it is the way of life and deeply embedded in the tradition and culture of the local communities of the region.  However in the recent past due to changes in the socio-economic condition and  land use pattern, shortcomings like reduced jhum cycles, reduced fallow period, loss in soil fertility and poor crop yields have started to emerge in the jhum field of Mizoram thereby threatening degeneration of the state's rich natural resource and well being of the community directly depending on them.

The IKI- Biodiv  project has helped in generating awareness  and  strengthened the capacity of the land users on measures of jhum optimization and intensification which will contribute to promoting biodiversity and ecosystem services while ensuring food and livelihood security of the farmers.


Southeast Asia
Scale of implementation
Biodiversity mainstreaming
Forest Management
Local actors
Loss of Biodiversity
Lack of alternative income opportunities
Lack of technical capacity
Lack of public and decision maker’s awareness
Lack of food security
Unemployment / poverty
Sustainable development goals
SDG 1 – No poverty
SDG 2 – Zero hunger
SDG 3 – Good health and well-being
SDG 13 – Climate action
SDG 15 – Life on land
Aichi targets
Target 1: Awareness of biodiversity increased
Target 2: Biodiversity values integrated
Target 4: Sustainable production and consumption
Target 7: Sustainable agriculture, aquaculture and forestry
Target 8: Pollution reduced
Target 13: Safeguarding genetic diversity
Target 14: Ecosystem services
Target 15: Ecosystem restoration and resilience
Target 17: Biodiversity strategies and action plans
Target 18: Traditional knowledge
Target 19: Sharing information and knowledge
Business engagement approach
Indirect through government


Mizoram, India


  • Jhumming or the rotational agro forestry is the main landuse practice and the major source of food security and livelihood for the rural communities of Mizoram for centuries. This practice  is well adapted to this region creating cultural landscapes and has been found to preserve biodiversity and forest on a long term.  
  • In recent years, jhum has come under stress due to land use changes, shortening of jhum cycle, reduced fallow period, loss of soil fertility and reduced crop yield.Therefore there is an urgent need to align various ecosystem services with the rapid soicio economic transformation taking place in Mizoram.
  • Therefore to popularize the practice of jhum optimization and intensification by bringing in measures for increasing cultivation period i.e. fallow management to restore soil fertility, recharge soil moisture and underground water, creation of secondary forest and other subsidiary income as well as enhancing microbial actvities and maintain ecosystem were undertaken.


Village council members and farmers of Khawrihnim village in Mizoram were the main beneficiaries. Besides them a Self help group and  government officials of forest department also benefitted from the programme.

How do the building blocks interact?

  • The first building block helped to address the knowledge gap of the  local communities and land users by generating awareness about the importance of biodiversity conservation and its linkages to their livelihood and food security. 
  • The second building block made them to realize  that the measures of jhum optimization are just some kind of improvisation of the method which they were already practicing and by observing them being practiced by their counterpart in Nagaland helped them
    - to improve their knowledge, 
    - to gain confidence 
    - and to trigger practicing them back in their village.
  • After enhancement of their capacity, the third building block can effectively address the challenge, as  the local community depends upon the forest and its resources  for their livelihood and the need to conserve it by adopting various innovative practices of good jhuming.
  • Finally the solution will provide an oppurtunity to convince the government for mainstreaming jhum optimization measures and incorporate this in their policy.



  • Awareness on biodiversity conservation and ecosystem management was generated among the government official, community leaders and farmers.
  • Interest among the farmers and community leaders to take up different jhum optimization measures in their jhum field was developed. 
  • The farmers started to conserve the forest tree seedlings and trees offshoots during weeding in their jhum field.
  • The department of forest environment and wild life exhibited interest and was ready to asses the villagers with ready to plant tree saplings.




 In Khawrihnim village the farmers were practicing Jhum for generations and cultivation of secondary crops, mixed and  intercropping of oilseeds, pulses, vegetables, spices and tubers  along with rice as the main crop were in the practice in the jhum field.Though the farmers were aware about the benefits of long fallow cycle and regeneration of forest, they were skeptical about the idea of continuing in the same Jhum plot in the second year as they feared drastic reduction of crop yield due to loss of soil fertility. Further, the village had never thought about it, as they were comfortable with utilizing the Jhum land only for a year as they had enough land in their disposal and presently their Jhum cycle was 9-10 years.

The village council authority and the farmers were convinced after the workshop  that little modification in their existing jhum system through jhum optimization measures would benefit them immensely  through increase in household income while conserving biodiversty and improving ecosystem service of the land users.

Contributed by

Dr.Dipak K. Chetri Consultant to GIZ