Forest Conservation Efforts – NFP, Western Ghats, etc.

Podu Land issue in Telangana


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Podu, Shifting cultivation

Mains level : Not Much

The Telangana government has decided to move landless, non-tribal farmers engaged in Podu shifting cultivation inside forests to peripheral areas as it looks to combat deforestation.

What is Shifting Cultivation?

  • Shifting cultivation is a form of agriculture or a cultivation system, in which, at any particular point in time, a minority of ‘fields’ are in cultivation and a majority are in various stages of natural re-growth.
  • Over time, fields are cultivated for a relatively short time, and allowed to recover, or are fallowed, for a relatively long time.
  • Eventually, a previously cultivated field will be cleared of the natural vegetation and planted in crops again.
  • Fields in established and stable shifting cultivation systems are cultivated and fallowed cyclically.
  • This type of farming is also called jhumming in India.

What is Podu?

  • Podu is a traditional system of cultivation used by tribes in India, whereby different areas of jungle forest are cleared by burning each year to provide land for crops.
  • The word comes from the Telugu language.
  • Podu is a form of shifting agriculture using slash-and-burn methods.

Issue in Telangana

  • Shifting cultivation continues to be a predominant agricultural practice in many parts of India, despite state discouragement and multipronged efforts.
  • Telangana government has red-flagged encroachment of forests by non-tribals, who are indulging in the practice of shifting agriculture (podu).
  • Several political leaders have raised the issues of shifting agriculture and deforestation wherein encroachers clear a portion of land.
  • The government now wants to shift out all farmers from the forests to the periphery by allotting lands to them for cultivation.

Impact of the move

  • Tribal farmers who have been traditionally cultivating for decades will not be affected by this drive against illegal encroachers.
  • The government has, in fact, given land ownership titles to tribals.
  • Other encroaching farmers will be shifted out.

Back2Basics: Various shifting cultivation in India

Type Place of practice
Jhum North-eastern India
Vevar and Dahiyaar Bundelkhand Region (Madhya Pradesh)
Deepa Bastar District (Madhya Pradesh)
Zara and Erka Southern States
Batra South-eastern Rajasthan
Podu Andhra Pradesh
Kumari Hilly Region of the Western Ghats of Kerala
Kaman, Vinga and Dhavi Odisha


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