Permaculture to monoculture in shifting cultivation landscape of Mizoram, Northeast India: Are agrobiodiversity and happiness waning?
The status of agrobiodiversity and perceived well-being of one indigenous community, namely the Mara tribe, was assessed in a pilot study of 150 households sampled at random from two blocks in Saiha district, which lies at the south-western corner of the state of Mizoram. A subsample of 50 households was chosen, based on a set of predefined criteria, for data collection using mix methods approach. The study documented 30 species of plants being cultivated by the respondents. The species comprised ten vegetables, nine fruit plants, seven field crops and four species of spices and condiments and their cultivation was supplemented with five species of domesticated livestock. The plants other than field crops were identified by the respondents as top three choices for the diversification of farming. The growing transition to monoculture is taking its toll on the respondents’ sense of subjective well-being. Most of them (92%) reported a moderate level of well-being or fluctuating levels of well-being: they are struggling now and expect to struggle even more in the future, to continue their way of life. We urge caution in the drive towards modernization lest the change should threaten the well-being of people and the ecological–economic trade-offs of monoculture.
Agrobiodiversity; Cash crop; Jhum; Monoculture; Permaculture; Well-being
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