This season 6,510 hectares of land in 10 upazilas were prepared for paddy cultivation
Jhum farmers including women of Rangamati district have started harvesting paddy, expecting a plentiful yield at the end of the harvest, bringing a smile on their face.
Jhum cultivation, also known as shifting cultivation, is a local name for slash and burn agriculture practiced by the indigenous communities in mountainous areas.
This system involves clearing a piece of land by setting fire or clear felling, and using the area for growing crops of agricultural importance such as upland rice, vegetables or fruits. After a few cycles, the land loses fertility and a new area is chosen.
Several indigenous groups in Rangamati, including Chakma, Marma, Khumi, Lusai, and many others are heavily dependent on this age old cultivation method for collecting food crops for the whole year.
Jhum farming provides them stocks for two-thirds of a year. This year, farmers are extra happy with a good yield of paddy.
This season, at least 6,510 hectares of land of 10 upazilas were prepared for paddy cultivation in Rangamati. The upazilas are: Bagaichhari, Belaichhari , Juraichhari, Kaptai, Langadu, Naniarchar, Rajasthali, Kawkhali, Barkal, and Rangamati Sadar Upazila.
According to the Department of Agricultural Extension (DAE) of the district,1.4 metric ton paddy will be harvested per hectare, fulfilling the total target of 9,114 metric tons this season.
Indigenous people of the district prepare their fields and sow seeds in April, and harvest the crop from September to November.
During a recent visit to these areas, this correspondent talked to several jhum farmers of the indigenous community, and they expressed their satisfaction with the bumper production.
Kaladhan Chakma from Rangamati Sadar upazila told that he was hoping to get a good deal of paddy this season.
“Besides paddy, I have cultivated turmeric,” said Arun Kanti Chakma from Mogban union of Sadar upazila.
Meanwhile Mongol Bikash Chakama from Shukorchharu village under the Sadar upazila, said that the yield seemed quite satisfactory as the weather was favourable this season, adding, “If we get assistance from the Agriculture Department, we will be able cultivate more paddy and other crops in the next season.”
Apart from paddy, farmers also cultivated other vegetables such as peppers, gourds, eggplants, pumpkins, mustard, maize, and barley,etc. Adequate rainfall and favourable weather has contributed to record production.
Pabon Kumar Chakma, deputy director of Rangamati Department of Agricultural Extension (DAE), said: “Like every year, jhum yield is satisfactory this year. Jhum cultivation is an age old tradition of indigenous farmers. A huge number of people from indigenous communities in the district lives on jhum cultivation.”
This year, Ufshi paddy was cultivated on 510 hectares of land while BIRI 55/48 was grown on 6,000 hectares of land, he added.