Jhum Meets IFOAM: Introducing Organic Agriculture in a Tribal Society

N. Eernstman, A.E.J. Wals

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

5 Citations (Scopus)


Worldwide organic agriculture (OA) is seen by many as a promising alternative for the present `unsustainable' farming systems. The conversion to `organic' is often accompanied by the introduction of universal principles and standards that allow for certification. This study explores the interface between two knowledge systems: organic agriculture as interpreted by the International Federation of Organic Agriculture Movements (IFOAM) and the slash-and-burn-based Naga shifting cultivation system (Jhum) as it still functions today in the Northeast of India. The study demonstrates that in some cases the introduction of a universal knowledge system such as IFOAM may actually be counteractive in the development of contextually appropriate and workable sustainable land management (SLM) systems. Instead of imposing OA on local communities, in a well-meant attempt to establish a more sustainable agriculture system, the authors conclude that alternative paths towards sustainable development are needed, paths which take into account differing perceptions of what `sustainable land use' means in a specific context.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)95-106
JournalInternational Journal of Agricultural Sustainability
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2009


  • agroforestry
  • indigenous knowledge
  • organic farming
  • knowledge systems
  • sustainable land use
  • nature and environmental education
  • shifting cultivation


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