The Nagas

Hill Peoples of Northeast India

Project Introduction The Naga Database

typescript 'Village Organization Among the Central Nzemi Nagas', M.A. thesis by Ursula Betts

caption: Chapter five: land tenure and agriculture
caption: the agricultural system
caption: almost all land under cultivation in dry rice
medium: theses
ethnicgroup: Nzemi
location: Thingje
date: 1946
person: Betts/ U.V.
date: 1950
refnum: M.A. thesis, University College, London
note: footnotes indicated by boxes within square brackets
text: 2. The Agricultural System
text: Central Nzemi agriculture is based on the cultivation of rice on dry, unterraced hillsides, the fields being cleared from jungle as described below, fired, cultivated for two years, or three when the soil is exceptionally good, and then allowed to return to secondary jungle. For reasons which will be considered later almost all fields in the Central Nzemi area are cut in secondary jungle or grassland and very little land suitable to the preferred system of cultivation remains untouched; but occasionally, when pressure upon more suitable land is high, a few fields are cut in the high mountain forest above the normal upper limit of cultivation, which lies approximately on the 4,000-foot contour. When this occurred at Thingje in 1946 the cutters revived an ancient custom and claimed a pig from the holder of the right to rent on the grounds that, as the land had been added to that available to the village community and the right-holder now stood to benefit by the payment of rent, he should recompense the cutters for the heavy labour of clearing the virgin forest. The right-holder, who was the Thingje kadepeo contested the claim, alleging that he had not been consulted and that he had not (106) given his consent to the clearance. The case was heard by the village court, which, after sending to other villages to consult authorities on tribal custom, found for the cutters and ruled the kadepeo's objections invalid by traditional Nzemi practice. The occasioned considerable local interest, as it raised important and almost-forgotten points in regard to rights in land.