The burnt soil contains potash which increases the nutrient content of the soil. In line with the Centre's stress on conventional methods of cultivation, the state with a 72 percent forest cover had been able to reduce the total area under jhum cultivation from 1,10,000 hectares to 84,000 hectares in the last 10 years, the state's agriculture department said.
Agriculture department adviser AK Purkayastha said, "About 8.4 lakh metric tonnes of biomass gets lost due to burning of trees resulting in a huge emission of carbon monoxide, carbon dioxide, nitrous oxides and other gases. The emission has been reduced by taking up rice and maize cultivation in terraces."
Purkyastha said that the harmful effects of jhum cultivation included rapid soil erosion due to deforestation of hill tops and slopes and high runoff velocity and siltation of reservoirs, rivulets and valleys.
"The harmful effects also resulted in the rapid decrease of jhum productivity due to removal of top soil by runoff water and very little time to recuperate soil fertility due to reduced jhum cycle," he pointed out.


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