Journal of Applied Agricultural Economics and Policy Analysis
ISSN (Print): ISSN Pending ISSN (Online): ISSN Pending Website: Editor-in-chief: Apply for this position
Open Access
Journal Browser
Journal of Applied Agricultural Economics and Policy Analysis. 2020, 3(1), 8-14
DOI: 10.12691/jaaepa-3-1-2
Open AccessArticle

Household Demography and Food Security of Jhum Farmers in Bandarban District, Bangladesh

Ashrafun Nahar1, 2, Md. Ali Akbar1, Jatish C. Biswas1, Abdul Gafur1, Md. Farid Uddin3, Sonia Rashid1, Md. Abdul Mannan Mollah1, 4, Mong Sanue Marma5, Thwi Mong Marma1, Aung Swiy Shing Marma1, Md. Kamrul Islam3, M.G. Neogi1 and Abdul Hamid1,

1Agrarian Research Foundation, 5/10B, Block A, Lalmatia, Dhaka 1207, Bangladesh

2Department of Agribusiness, Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman Agricultural University, Gazipur 1706, Bangladesh

3Cotton Development Board, Khamarbari, Farmgate, Dhaka 1215, Bangladesh

4Kazi Azimuddin College, Joydebpur, Gazipur 1700, Bangladesh

5Hill Cotton Research Station, Balaghata, Bandarban, Bangladesh

Pub. Date: September 27, 2020

Cite this paper:
Ashrafun Nahar, Md. Ali Akbar, Jatish C. Biswas, Abdul Gafur, Md. Farid Uddin, Sonia Rashid, Md. Abdul Mannan Mollah, Mong Sanue Marma, Thwi Mong Marma, Aung Swiy Shing Marma, Md. Kamrul Islam, M.G. Neogi and Abdul Hamid. Household Demography and Food Security of Jhum Farmers in Bandarban District, Bangladesh. Journal of Applied Agricultural Economics and Policy Analysis. 2020; 3(1):8-14. doi: 10.12691/jaaepa-3-1-2


Farmers in the Chattogram Hill Tracts (CHT) practice jhum farming raising several crops together with upland rice being dominant. For regenerating soil fertility farmers leave the plot fallow moving to another plot. In recent years shortening of fallow length resulted in declining land productivity impacting negatively on jhum farmers’ food security. This paper mapped out the food security status of jhum farmers conducting a survey of 103 farmers across 23 villages (para) in four subdistricts of Bandarban district. Farms and farmers growing jhum crops were selected. Assessment of farmers’ household demography and level of food security was made conducting questionnaire-based survey and FGDs. Rice yields were estimated harvesting sample plots from the selected farmers’ fields. Majority of the households (83%) had 3-6 members per family and 74% households were headed by male farmers but women take on major responsibility of jhum farming. More than 56% household heads had no formal schooling. Land holding per family varied between 0.486 ha and 6.00 ha and about 54% farmers engaged two labors in jhum operations. The extent of food security in hilly region was measured based on the amount of rice production in relation to their annual demand. Rice grain yields varied greatly between 318 kg and 4,411 kg ha-1 among farmers’ plots across locations. Rice production per household indicated that about 93% farm households suffered from food insecurity to varying degrees. As a coping mechanism, food-insecure farmers met up their food demand scavenging uncultivated forest products collecting vegetables, fruits, roots and bamboo shoots. This study indicates that jhum system can no longer support household food security due to poor yield of rice and thus not sustainable.

household demography jhum farming food security family size land holding rice yield.

Creative CommonsThis work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License. To view a copy of this license, visit


[1]  Sharma, T.C., The pre-historic background of shifting cultivation. In: Shifting Cultivation in North-East India, NEICSSR, Shillong, India. 1976.
[2]  Roy, S.K., Aspects of Neolithic Agriculture and Shifting Cultivation, Garo Hills, Meghalaya, Asian Perspectives, 24(2), 193-221, 1981.
[3]  Nath, T.K., M. Inoue and S. Chakma, Shifting Cultivation (jhum) in the Chittagong Hill Tracts, Bangladesh: Examining its Sustainability, Rural Livelihood and Policy Implications. Int. J. Agric. Sust. 3(2), 130-142, 2005.
[4]  Cairns, M.F., Shifting Cultivation and Environmental Change - Indigenous People, Agriculture and Forest Conservation. Taylor & Francis Ltd., London. 1032 pp., 2015.
[5]  Barkat, A., G.M. Suhrawardy, A. Osman, M.A. Sobhan and R.B. Rafique, Agricultural production practices in Chittagong Hill Tracts. Mansher Jonno Foundation, Dhaka, 2017.
[6]  Gafur, A., Effects of shifting cultivation on soil properties, erosion, nutrient depletion and hydrological responses in small watershed of Chittagong Hill Tracts, unpublished PhD dissertation, Chemistry Department, The Royal Veterinary and Agricultural University, Copenhagen, Denmark, 2001.
[7]  Fox, J., Fujita, Y., Ngidang, D., Peluso, N., Potter, L. Sakuntaladewi, Ni., Sturgeon, J., and Thomas, D., Policies, Political-Economy, and Swidden in Southeast Asia. Hum Ecol., 37, 305-322, 2009.
[8]  Rasul, R. and Thapa, G. B., Shifting cultivation in the mountains of South and Southeast Asia: Regional patterns and factors influencing the change. Land Degradation and Development 14(5): 495-508, 2003.
[9]  Miah, M.A.M., Alam, Q.M. and Mohabbatullah, M., Household Food Security Among Indigenous Hill People in Khagrachari Hill District of Bangladesh. Bangladesh J. Agr. Economics 27: 69-88, 2014.
[10]  Heinimann, A., Hett, C., Hurni, K., Messerli, P., Epprecht, M., Jørgensen, L. and Breu, T., Socio-Economic Perspectives on Shifting Cultivation Landscapes in Northern Laos. Hum Ecol 41, 51-62, 2013.
[11]  Chowhan, S., Gupta, R., Islam, M. M. and Begum, S. N., Evaluation of NERICA rice mutant in Jhum cultivation. Int. J. Agron. Agr. Res. 12(2), 24-31, 2018.
[12]  Bangladesh Bureau of Statistics (BBS). 2018. Bangladesh Statistics, Ministry of Planning, Government of Bangladesh, Dhaka, 2017.
[13]  Birch-Thomsen, T. and Reenberg. A., The Dwindling Role of Population Pressure in Land Use Change—a Case from the South West Pacific, pp. 45-60. In M. Fischer-Kowalski et al. (eds.), Ester Boserup’s Legacy on Sustainability, 45 Human-Environment Interactions 4, 2014.
[14]  Choudhury, D. and Sundriyal, R.C., (20003) Factors contributing to the marginalization of shifting cultivation in north-east India: micro-scale issues. Outlook on Agriculture 32 (1), 17-28.
[15]  Begum, T., Hamid, A. and Salahuddin, A.K.M. (2019), Biophysical and Socio-economic Constraints to Expanding Mungbean, Grasspea and Cowpea Production during the Dry Season in South Central Coastal Region of Bangladesh, A Report Submitted to University of Western Australia. Agrarian Research Foundation, Dhaka. 60 pp.
[16]  Integrated Food Security Phase Classification (IPC), Chronic Food Insecurity Situation in 10 districts of Bangladesh. December 2015- 2018/20. 4 pp.
[17]  Jamaluddin, M., Hassan, M.K. and Miah, M.,. Identifying Livelihood Patterns of Ethnic Minorities and their Coping Strategies, Different Vulnerability Situation in Chittagong Hill Tract, Bangladesh, Final Report CF# 7/08, National Food Policy Capacity Strengthening Program.
[18]  Khisa, S.K. and Mohiuddin, M., Shrinking Jhum and changing (2015). livelihoods in the Chittagong Hill Tracts of Bangladesh. pp 18-112. In C. Erni (ed.). Shifting Cultivation, Livelihood and Food Security - New and Old Challenges for Indigenous Peoples in Asia. Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, Bangkok.
[19]  Mertz, O., The relationship between length of fallow and crop yields in shifting cultivation: A rethinking. Agroforestry Systems, 55(2), 149-159, 2002.
[20]  Bruun, T.B., Mertz, O. and Elberling, B., Linking yields of upland rice in shifting cultivation to fallow length and soil properties. Agriculture, Ecosystems and Environment, 113, 139-149, 2006.
[21]  Saito, K., Linquist, B., Keobualapha, B. Keobualapha, B. and Phanthaboon, K., Cropping intensity and rainfall effects on upland rice yields in northern Laos. Plant and Soil, 284(1):175-185, 2006.
[22]  Coleman-Jensen, A., Rabbitt, M. P., Gregory, C. A., and Singh, A., Household Food Security in the United States in 2018, ERR-270, U.S. Department of Agriculture, Economic Research Service, 2019.
[23]  Bhagawati, K., Bhagawati, G., Das, R., Bhagawati, R. and Ngachan, S.V., S.V. The Structure of Jhum (Traditional Shifting Cultivation System): Prospect or Threat to Climate. Intl. Letters Natural Sci. 46: 16-30,
[24]  Barkat, A., Halim, S, Poddar, A., Zaman, B., Osman, A., Khan, S., Rahman, M., Majid, M., Mahiyuddin, G., Chakma, S. and Bashir, S., Socio-Economic Baseline Survey of Chittagong Hill Tracts. UNDP, Dhaka, 2009.
[25]  Iftikhar, N., Ali, T., and Ahmad, M., Role of Women in Agriculture and their need”. J. of Animal and Plant Sciences, 17(3/4), 93-94, 2007.
[26]  Håkangård, A., Women in shifting cultivation, Luang Prabang Province, Lao PDR. Department of Social Anthropology, University of Stockholm Report No.18. 29pp., 1990.
[27]  Bangladesh Bureau of Statistics (BBS), Bangladesh Agricultural Statistics Yearbook 2018. Ministry of Planning, Government of Bangladesh, Dhaka, 2019.
[28]  Hu, J., Zhu, L., Zhong, C., Lin, Y., Zhang, J., Cao, X. and Yu, S., Effects of Aeration Methods on Photosynthetic Characteristics and Yield of Rice (in Chinese). Chin J Rice Sci., 31(3), 278-287, 2017.
[29]  Mishra, B. K., and Ramakrishnan, P.S., The economic yields and energy efficiency of hill agro-ecosystems at higher elevations of Meghalaya in north-eastern India. Acta Oecologica, 2, 369-389, 1981.
[30]  Osman, K.S., Jashimuddin, M., Haque, S. M. S. and Miah, S., Effect of shifting cultivation on soil physical and chemical properties in Bandarban hill district, Bangladesh. J. Forestry Res., 24(4), 791-795, 2013.
[31]  Sarkar, D., Meitei, C.B., Baishya, L.K., Das, A., Ghosh, S. Chongloi, K.L. and Rajkhowa, D. Potential of fallow chronosequence in shifting cultivation to conserve soil organic carbon in northeast India. Catena 135,321-327, 2015.
[32]  Miah, M.A.M., Alam, M.Q. and Mohabbatullah, M. Household food security among indigenous hill people in Khagrachari hill district of Bangladesh. Bangladesh J. Agric. Econ., 37, 69-88, 2014.
[33]  Datta, J., Gangadharappa, N.R. and Biradar, G.S., Livelihood Status of Tribal People Practicing Shifting (Jhum) Cultivation in Tripura State of North-East India. Tropical Agricultural Research, 25 (3), 316-326, 2014.
[34]  Agricultural Growth and Employment Program (AGEP), Program Document on a project on Integrated Farm Management Component (IFMC) and Agriculture and Food Security Project (AFSP) in the Chittagong Hill Tracts. DANIDA, Dhaka. 62 pp., 2013.