The Nagas

Hill Peoples of Northeast India

Project Introduction The Naga Database

book - 'Naga Path', by Ursula Graham Bower, published John Murray 1950

caption: Chapter twenty. The Land and the People
caption: method of cultivation: jhuming
medium: books
person: Graham Bower/ Ursula
text: The staple crop is rice, though millet, maize and vegetables are grown as sidelines. The method of cultivation is that known as "jhuming ", and is practised by most of the Assam hill-tribes. By it, a different block of jungle is felled each successive year, burned, cleared, planted, and cultivated for two or perhaps three seasons. Then it is left to lie fallow, and the longer it stands, the thicker the jungle grows, the deeper is the humus and the better the next crop. If, then, a village controls sufficient land, and each block in turn can lie fallow for years, the system continues indefinitely without loss to the soil.
text: Now the North Cachar Barail is extremely steep, a tract of extraordinary complexity. Cliffs and crags abound, the spurs lie close, and in between are gorges and deep ravines. Land suited for "jhums " exists only in scattered patches, and to maintain itself in such a terrain a village must control an abnormally large territory. Of this, a part will be widely- dispersed jhum-land, and the rest - by far the greater part - wild rock and forest on which cultivation is either uneconomic or physically impossible.