Journal of Mountain Science

, Volume 13, Issue 8, pp 1489–1502 | Cite as

Traditional farming in the mountainous region of Bangladesh and its modifications

  • Khaled MisbahuzzamanEmail author


Shifting cultivation is a traditional farming system practiced in the tropical mountainous areas. Although it has been widely perceived as an economically inefficient and environmentally harmful agricultural production system, recent science reviews, however, indicate that the deleterious impacts of shifting cultivation on environment may have been overestimated. Despite the pressures of agricultural intensification in areas where shifting cultivation occurs, farmers across the tropics still maintain this traditional farming system. The objective of this study was to explore existing traditional shifting cultivation practices and their various modifications including the innovative farming techniques developed by farmers in the Chittagong Hill Tracts (CHTs), the mountainous region of Bangladesh, and examine their importance with respect to recent socio-economic and environmental changes. The study revealed that shifting cultivation still exists as the most dominant farming method which supports livelihoods and culture of the hill ethnic people. However, demand for more food and household income to meet livelihood needs of an increasing population combined with a rapid deterioration of soil and water quality over decades contributed to development of innovative farming practices through fallow land farming, crop substitution, agroforestry and homestead gardening in the CHTs. Through these farming techniques farmers maintain a strong relationship with traditional knowledge system embedded in the age-old shifting cultivation practices. Today state policies and market forces act in favor of replacement of traditional farming with intensive cash crop agriculture. It seems that disappearance of traditional farming practices from the hills may threaten local biodiversity and food security. It may be recommended that shifting cultivation should be encouraged in areas where they have potential for contributing to preservation of native biodiversity and ecosystem services, and protection of local peoples’ food security and cultural identity.


Shifting cultivation Chittagong Hill Tracts Agroforestry Food security 


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Copyright information

© Science Press, Institute of Mountain Hazards and Environment, CAS and Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Institute of Forestry and Environmental SciencesChittagong UniversityChittagongBangladesh

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