Land Use and Livelihood: The Case of Shifting Cultivation among the Kukis

By M. Mangkholen Haokip

Shifting cultivation as the main source of livelihood framed the life-world of the Kukis in the hills of Manipur. The socio-cultural, politico-administrative, religious practice and most importantly the land use system have an intertwined relationship with it. Though shifting cultivation has been debated and invites stringent scrutiny in policy arenas, it withstand as the chief source of sustenance for many in the tropics and sub-tropics till today. Important debates on the questions of sustainability and environmental consequences of shifting cultivation are intrinsic to the land use system of the cultivators. This paper is an attempt to examine the practices of shifting cultivation vis-à-vis the land use system among the Kuki shifting cultivators through a qualitative analysis. It argues that the land use system, reasoned by their livelihood (shifting cultivation) and the notion of forest conservation is an ingeniously developed sustainable technique of their association with the rough topography over a long period of time.

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