Journal of Mountain Science

, Volume 4, Issue 1, pp 057–070 | Cite as

Coping with pressures of modernization by traditional farmers: a strategy for sustainable rural development in Yunnan, China

  • Shiro Chikamatsu 
  • Jose Ireneu Furtad
  • Shen Lixin Email author
  • Yan Mei 


Traditional farming practices conform to sustainable rural livelihoods, while agricultural modernisation tends to undermine these practices through various perturbations. A case study in Tengchong County (western Yunnan, China) shows that transformation of traditional alder (Alnus nepalensis) and dry rice (upland rice) rotational farming to introduced Chinese fir (Cunninghamia lanceolata (Lamb.) Hook.) plantations leads to localised water scarcity and soil fertility decline. While farmers are aware of ecological sustainability of traditional farming, they prefer Chinese fir forestry because it is less labour-intensive, has a high market value, and releases time for profitable off-farm work. Farmers adapt to economic liberalization by planting high value crops and trees. However, alternatives to make local agricultural production more profitable through competitive business strategies, cooperative approaches, innovations in integrating high value crops and ‘downstream’ processing for sustainable rural livelihoods have been overlooked largely due to poor information availability and lack of organisational framework.


Agrobiodiversity sustainable rural development capital assets traditional knowledge traditional farming Yunnan alder-upland rice Chinese fir 


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Copyright information

© Science Press 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  • Shiro Chikamatsu 
    • 1
  • Jose Ireneu Furtad
    • 1
  • Shen Lixin 
    • 2
    Email author
  • Yan Mei 
    • 3
  1. 1.Imperial College LondonLondonEngland, UK
  2. 2.Yunnan Academy of ForestryKunmingChina
  3. 3.Asian Institute of ManagementManilaPhilippines

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