SHIFTING CULTIVATION (JHUM) AGROBIODIVERSITY AT STAKE: BANGLADESH SITUATION
The Chittagong Hill Tracts in Bangladesh comprise three hill districts that make up about 10% of the total land area and 90% of the total hill area of the country, making the area different from the rest of the country in environmental, demographic and farming aspects. A mountainous area, it is geographically part of Hindu Kush-Himalaya region and inhabited by 13 ethnic communities. The traditional slash-and-burn shifting cultivation locally known as jhum is the main farming system practiced by local ethnic communities. The jhum is a unique agro-ecosystem having distinct agrobiodiversity adapted only to the fragile hill ecosystem and maintained through these communities. Cultivated biodiversity in this jhum agro-ecosystem comprises of cereals, vegetables, oil plants, spices, condiments and culinary herbs, floricultural and medicinal plants. Farmers cultivate more than 40 species in the jhums. There also exists wide genetic diversity (more than 20 varieties/cultivars of rice) within the species. Besides the agrobiodiversity farmers also use about 50 wild plant species as food plants linked with food security. Combined with other factors such as shrinkage of community land, road network development and access to urban markets, the national policies have brought changes in land uses towards permanent farming like horticulture and tree farming, ultimately resulting in decreased jhum agrobiodiversity. This paper suggests some strategies for sustainable hill farming along with preservation of jhum agrobiodiversity from extinction. This framework strategy includes: land use and conservation through landscape mosaics, sequential-spatial shifting cultivation of niche jhum crops, changing or improved fallow jhum management, domestication and conservation of niche crops through incentives, market promotion of niche products, sustainable trade of product and services, and restoration and revitalization of traditional community resource management system.
Alam, M.K. and Mohiuddin, M. (2009). SHIFTING CULTIVATION (JHUM) AGROBIODIVERSITY AT STAKE: BANGLADESH SITUATION. Acta Hortic. 806, 709-716
agro-ecosystem, conservation, genetic diversity, hill farming, niche crops