Guwahati, September 10: The central policy think tank, National Institution for Transforming India (Niti) Aayog, has called for a mission mode approach for transforming shifting cultivation.
It had constituted a working group on Shifting Cultivation: Towards a Transformation Approach considering the importance of the problem and in order to improve livelihood, eradicate poverty and stop degradation of land.
Niti Aayog said managing transformation of shifting cultivation areas is a complex process, requiring the active participation of multiple ministries and agencies.
“Assigning the responsibility of effecting change to a single ministry in a conventional manner and expecting the cooperation of other ministries in achieving the objectives of transformation is unrealistic (and has proven to be ineffective, given the lack of coordination and synergies already witnessed).
“For effective management of transformation in shifting cultivation, it is recommended the programme be taken up in a mission mode,” it said, adding that Mission on Shifting Cultivation: Towards Transformative Changes needs to be launched under the agriculture ministry.
The mission should set an institutional mechanism that ensures inter-ministerial convergence, particularly with the ministries of environment, forests and climate change and DoNER, and other related ministries/departments at the Centre and northeastern states.
“This will ensure accountability of all related ministries and agencies that need to actively contribute to the process while also strengthening coordination,” it said.
It said there is a need to adopt a “landscape or systems” approach, not a crop-based approach. “Integration of various land use elements at the landscape level is fundamental for the success of transformation of shifting cultivation in the Northeast,” it said.
It said there is a need to learn from and draw upon traditional agriculture in the Northeast.
The approaches for transformation should not summarily dismiss traditional land uses but try to blend the traditional with the modern and wherever possible, improve the productivity of existing practices through locally acceptable technological interventions like aji system of the Apatanis, zabo system of the Chakesang, bun system of Khasi Hills, alder-based system of the Angamis and tree-based rice cultivation of the Konyaks, among others, it said.
The third principle, specifically applicable to shifting cultivation, is “do not try to stop shifting cultivation – help communities to transform shifting cultivation practices rather than blanket ban”.
It said there is a need to safeguard customary tenure and access rights to land and resources.
“This principle is of critical importance as this will ensure the continuance of tenurial security for all and thereby, allow an inclusive transformational process that will benefit all,” it added. (TTNE)