To move farmers from the unscientific “Jhum” or slash-and-burn method of cultivation to sustainable and environmentally friendly agriculture, the Food and Agriculture Organization’s “Green-Ag” project Agriculture (FAO) is implemented in Mizoram, ensuring conservation of biodiversity and forests.
The project is implemented in two districts of Mizoram – Mamit and Lunglei – to improve rural livelihoods and ensure food and nutrition security for farmers and rural people by ensuring the conservation of biodiversity and forests.
Lunglei District Agriculture Officer C. Malsawmkima said the ‘Green-Ag’ project would harmonize priorities and investments between India’s agricultural and environmental sectors. This will be done so that national and global environmental benefits can be fully realized without compromising India’s ability to provide and develop rural livelihoods and achieve its food and nutrition security and social (especially gender).
“Various technical and other formalities, sensitization and motivation have been done since the government decided to implement the “Green-Ag” project in Mizoram three years ago. The actual implementation of the project would start in the next two to three months,” Malsawmkima told IANS.
He said the FAO-funded “Green-Ag” project is expected to meet all basic requirements, including food grains for farmers and rural people, and move farmers from unscientific “Jhum” to viable and sustainable agriculture.
Tribes in the northeastern states have traditionally practiced the “Jhum” or slash-and-burn cultivation method, which greatly harms the forests, the environment and the soil in the mountains.
This form of shifting agriculture usually involves cutting down entire forests in the hills and letting the cut vegetation dry on the mountain slopes before burning it. Rice is grown with vegetables, corn, cotton and mustard, among others.
Tribes make up 27% of the 45.58 million people in northeastern India and they are the majority (70-95%) in four of the eight northeastern states – Mizoram, Meghalaya, Nagaland and Arunachal Pradesh.
Developing sustainable agricultural practices like organic farming instead of ‘Jhum’ cultivation would lead to a ‘green North East’, said environmental expert Apurba Kumar Dey.
Dey told IANS, “A mission similar to a Green-Ag project could serve a dual purpose: meeting the food and nutrition needs of rural populations and protecting and thriving forests and the environment.”
The “Green-Ag” project is being implemented under the FAO GEF-6 cycle in five Indian states – Mizoram, Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Odisha and Uttarakhand.
Malsawmkima said a virtual meeting of the Technical Support Group (TSG) of FAO’s Green Landscape Implementation Unit, “Green-Ag” was held on March 16 under the chairmanship of Deputy Commissioner Lunglei Kulothungan A.
Officials from the National Green-Ag Project Management Unit (NPMU) based in New Delhi, as well as officials from Mamit and Lunglei districts discussed ways to implement the project.
The annual work plan and budget for 2022-2023 were discussed in detail during the virtual meeting and approved. The meeting also approved the high priority areas in Mamit and Lunglei districts, where the project will be implemented.
Malsawmkima said five things – sticky rice, Mizo chili, sesame, corn and piggery – were selected to drive the project forward.
The project will cover 1,45,670 hectares of land in 35 villages in two districts of Mizoram – Lunglei and Mamit. The project also includes two protected areas – Dampa Tiger Reserve and Thorangtlang Wildlife Sanctuary.
The main objective of the “Green-Ag” project is to reduce emissions from agriculture and ensure that agricultural practices are followed, keeping sustainability and growth in mind.
A project profile of “Green-Ag” said that it has been designed in such a way that it covers a large area of land up to 1.8 million hectares in Mizoram, Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh , Odisha and Uttarakhand and provides environmental benefits on a global level.
The areas covered by this project in five states have a different land use system. The project aims for sustainable land use and efficient water management.
An official document indicates that the government has planned the project for five years and that it will end on March 31, 2026 in the five states.
Meanwhile, according to the State of India’s Forest Report 2021 (ISFR 2021) released earlier this year, forest cover in the country’s 140 mountainous districts showed a decrease of 902 km2 (0.32%) with the eight northeastern states. region also in decline.
Arunachal Pradesh, which has 16 hill districts, recorded forest cover loss of 257 km2 compared to the 2019 assessment, the three hill districts of Assam (-107 km2), the nine districts of hills of Manipur (- 249 km2), the eight hills of Mizoram (- 186 km2), the seven hill districts of Meghalaya (- 73 km), the 11 districts of Nagaland (- 235 km2), the four districts of Sikkim ( – 1 km2) and the four districts of Tripura (- 4 km2).
The total forest cover in the northeast region is 1,69,521 km2, or 64.66% of its area.
The ISFR 2021 assessment shows a decrease in forest cover of 1,020 km2 (0.60%) in the region.
(Sujit Chakraborty can be contacted at [email protected])