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 six: Cycle migration
caption: urgent problem of rice shortages; overpopulation
medium: theses
ethnicgroup: Nzemi
location: Asalu Laisong Tolpi (Tolpui) Nenglo Jiri R. Jenam R.
person: Betts/ U.V.
date: 1950
refnum: M.A. thesis, University College, London
note: footnotes indicated by boxes within square brackets
text: That problem is urgent. The Asalu cluster has already ceased to be self-supporting on its own crops and has suffered two sharp famines. Laisong moved from the Jiri Valley to the Jenam Valley in 1910 in order to have access to the considerable stretches of easily-sloping hillside which were there available. By 1946 heavy pressure on the land was observable in this area. The Kuki village of Tolpui had pushed its frontier with Laisong back to within half-a-mile of Laisong settlement, but still had insufficient land and was forced to cut fields on the extremely steep slopes to the south and west of the valley. The southern block suffered so severely from soil-wash in the first year that it could not be used for second-year cultivation and was abandoned. Relatively few fields were cut each year by Laisong in jungle of any kind, and both Laisong and Nenglo were cultivating grassland areas at intervals of only five years; a number of Laisong villagers had recommenced cultivation in the Jiri Valley, the fields being five or six miles from the village; secondary jungle had so receded in the Jenam Valley that firewood could not be found within a mile of Laisong; and the Jenam River, whose valley was heavily cultivated and largely grassland, was more prone to sudden and violent flood than the Jiri River, whose valley was less (139) heavily populated and had more forest cover in the upper reaches. The situation is deteriorating progressively and it is to be feared that in another generation much of the agricultural land in the Central Nzemi area will be incapable of supporting the present population by a system of shifting cultivation.