Capacity building programme organized for Jhum Farmers in ICAR Tripura Centre

A 2 day training and Capacity building programme for Jhum Improvement was organized at ICAR Research Complex for NEH Region, Tripura Centre from 7-8 January, 2021. Jhum farming locally known as HUK (in Kokbarak language) is an age old tradition being practiced in all the states of NE India with an area coverage of 0.78 million ha. This practice is synonymous to the cultural heritage and identity of the tribal farmers residing in hills. However this practice is environmentally unsustainable as this leads to soil degradation, loss of vegetation and soil fertility etc. As the population pressure has increased, the earlier Jhum cycle of 10-15 years has reduced to 2-3 years which is leading to more and more degradation of land and depletion of soil fertility. Many Jhumias are being forced to use inorganic fertilizer and chemical pesticides to get bountiful harvest from their crop. This is a huge concern as Jhum farming is considered to be organic. Farmers practicing Jhum cannot be discouraged to do so as this is their sole source of livelihood and Jhum helps them bond to their root heritage.

Considering this, ICAR Tripura Centre has undertaken a basic training programme to understand the needs of the Jhum farmers in the real time and simultaneously develop their skill and expertise in modern and sustainable farming practices for their overall livelihood improvement and conservation of natural resources. Fifty farmers from Dhalai (Gandachara), Khowai (Hazrapara ADC), Gomti (Omti ADC), Sipahijala (Charkalak ADC, Thelakung ADC), West Tripura (Khamtingbari ADC) participated as trainee. Among them about 30% were women farmers. Information about farmers practice, socio-economic conditions, problems faced by them including opportunities were obtained from farmers through fiiling a predesigned questionnaire. During the interaction session, farmers expressed their need for piglet, fish feed, sprayer etc for easing their farming activities from ICAR/ A series of scientific practices and technologies relevant to improvement of jhum farming were discussed with them like Integrated farming system, soil and water conservation practices, Vegetable & Fruits farming, Nutritional kitchen garden, Pig & Poultry farming, Fisheries and Aquaculture etc. A field visit was also organized for practical learning of jhumias. ICAR Tripura has been relentlessly taking up concerted efforts along with KVKs, State Departments, Farmers Group, NGOs in identifying needs of the Jhum farmers and bootstrapping them with available scientific knowledge, technology and critical inputs.

Hon’ble Member of Parliament, Tripura East, Shri Rebati Tripura graced the Valedictory Programme as Chief Guest. In his address, Honourable MP emphasized on the importance of Jhum farming for tribal livelihood. He explained how Jhum is a way of living for the Jhumias. He encouraged the farmers to take up Jhum Farming in a scientific and responsible way. He applauded the efforts of ICAR for undertaking such initiative for the resource poor tribal farmers of Tripura. He advised the farmers to grow for income generation through jhum farming practices. He also advocated for one district one crop model so that farmers can do farming with more interest and efficiency thereby making their farming more profitable. He also discussed various Government schemes and urged the farmers to take more benefit from such type of schemes. Hon’ble MP also appreciated the efforts of ICAR towards technical and input supports for livelihood improvement of jhum farmers. Mr. P. B. Roy, Chairman, All Tripura Farmers club spoke in depth about the efforts of ICAR Tripura Centre indeveloping Agriculture sector in Tripura. The Director of the Institute Dr. Basant K. Kandpal has time and again promoted scientific Jhum farming not only in Tripura but also in other North Eastern states. Under his able guidance such type of work on Jhum Improvement has been taken up.  The Joint Director of the Institute Dr. Biswajit Das urged the farmers to take up scientific Vegetable and fruit farming in the Jhum lands for livelihood improvement. In the Valedictory Programme Farmers provided their feed back and expressed satisfaction for attending the programme. Critical inputs like Vegetable seeds, Planting materials, Poultry chicks, Poultry feed, Fish feed, power sprayers were distributed among the trainee farmers. Vote of thanks was proposed by Dr. Lopamudra Sahoo, Senior Scientist, ICAR Tripura. The Programme was coordinated by Dr. Anup Das, Principal Scientist, Agronomy, Dr. Lopamudra Sahoo, Senior Scientist, Fisheries, Dr. Vinay Singh, Scientist, Poultry and Dr. H. Lembisan Devi, Scientist, Horticulture.

This was the Preliminary exposure of the Jhum farmers to ICAR Technologies. After identification of needs and gaps, a detailed Project on Jhum Improvement will be undertaken at various places of Tripura with onsite training and demonstration to the farmers.

Few Photographs of the Programme

Scientist-Farmer interaction
Interaction of farmers with Joint Director Dr. Biswajit Das
Dr. Anup Das, Principal Scientist, Agronomy interacting with farmers
Trainee farmers in Conservation Agriculture Field
Lighting of lamp by Hon’ble MP, East Tripura, Shri Rebati Tripura
Hon’ble MP Shri Rebati Tripura interacting with farmers
Distribution of inputs
Group Photograph of Farmers, Dignitories and ICAR Staff