Linkage between Indigenous Agriculture and Sustainable Development – Evidences from Two Hill Communities in Northeast India
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Sustainable food production system is the key to sustainable development especially for hill communities where agriculture is the mainstay of economy. History shows that human societies that can protect their livelihood-based natural resources are able to sustain themselves. So even today we find several indigenous communities obtaining sustained and adequate income/returns from their agriculture because of sustainability inbuilt in it. Besides production of food, proper protection of the environments through sustainable practices is always the inherent accompanying objective of agriculture in such communities. The paper argues that indigenous knowledge and practices formed the basis of sustainable development particularly in hill agrarian communities. The paper draws evidences from the cases of the Apatani and the Angami tribal communities of the Northeastern Region of India. Using interview schedules, data were collected from practising farmers and government officials working in the areas concerned. Over the years, the Apatani farmers are able to obtain sustained agricultural yields from their terrace wet rice fields by following their indigenous agricultural practices and community traditions. Their agricultural production is also strongly linked to the proper management of the forests around them. The Angami community, by utilising their traditional knowledge on alder trees, are able to rejuvenate their degraded jhum (slash and burn agriculture) lands and put them into more productive and sustainable uses. It is also revealed in the paper that organisational innovations are required as well to make use of the technical innovations already present.