Aizawl, Nov 2 (IANS) The Planning Commission Wednesday lauded the Mizoram government's flagship programme - New Land Use Policy (NLUP) which aims to support 120,000 farming families over five years.

'NLUP would be a model for other states in India to take up alternative farming instead of age-old 'Jhum' cultivation (slash and burn method of farming),' Planning Commission member Secretary Suddha Pillai said here.

Tribals in the hilly terrains of Mizoram and other northeastern states have for generations carried out 'jhum', which has resulted in degradation of forest land and deterioration of soil.

About 80 percent of farmers in Mizoram still depend on 'jhum' cultivation, which involves clearing forests and burning the slashed trees, weeds and bamboos.

Pillai, on a two-day visit to Mizoram, said: 'The NLUP, which was launched in January, has the potential to improve Mizoram economy dramatically.'

The NLUP aims to restore ecological balance by providing the farmers alternative sustainable and permanent land-based means of livelihood.

It also aims to create 21,480 hectares of bamboo plantation to benefit 10,740 families.

Despite the slash-and-burn system of cultivation, Mizoram has a large forest cover area of 75.77 percent of the total land.

According to an official report, the NLUP intends to keep 60 percent of the state's total geographical area under forest cover and the rest for land-based development.

Source : Indo-Asian News Service