Shifting to settled cultivation: Changing practices among the Adis in Central Arunachal Pradesh, north-east India
In the hilly tropics, although shifting cultivation is a widespread practice, government policies have attempted to replace it with other land uses. However, several factors determine whether farming communities can make the shift. We tried understanding the factors that facilitate or impede the shift to settled cultivation through interviews with the Adi tribe in north-east India. Although settled cultivation was initiated in the 60s, about 90 % of the families still practise shifting cultivation, observing 13 festivals associated with the annual agricultural calendar. Our results indicate that the economic status of a household determined whether a family undertook settled cultivation, while labour availability was important for shifting cultivation. Often, these nuances are ignored in the Government policies. We conclude that future policies should be mindful of cultural and socio-economic factors that affect the community and of the social-ecological resilience of the landscapes and not use a one-size-fits-all strategy.
KeywordsSwidden Wet rice cultivation Upper Siang district Eastern Himalaya
We thank the Adit Jain Foundation, Rufford Small Grants Foundation, Idea Wild and ATREE Small Grants for Research in North-east India for funding a project on shifting cultivation of which this research is a part. We also thank the Arunachal Pradesh Forest Department, Bittem Darang (Divisional Forest Officer), Kopang Takuk (Forest Ranger) for logistical help, Dunge Yalik, Durik Medo, Gekut Medo, Bamut Medo and Army Duggong for assistance with fieldwork, Anirban Datta-Roy for inputs to the research, Dr. Rohan Arthur for his contribution to the research and the manuscript and two anonymous reviewers for useful comments to improve the manuscript.
- Anonymous. 2004. Abstract of approved work plan formulated under the IWDP watershed development plan, Upper Siang. Prepared by Department of Land Resources, Ministry of Rural Development, Government of India. Retrieved 15 January, 2015, from http://watershed.nic.in/.
- Anonymous. 2012. All India Report on Agriculture Census. Department of Agriculture & Co-operation, Ministry of Agriculture, Government of India, Retrieved 15 January, 2015, from http://agricoop.nic.in/.
- Anonymous. 2014. MoU signed for oil palm cultivation. Official website of Government of Arunachal Pradesh. Retrieved 10 March, 2015, from http://arunachalpradesh.nic.in/csp_ap_portal/mou-oil-palm-cultivation.html.
- Bandy, D.E., D.P. Garrity, P.A. Sanchez, et al. 1993. The worldwide problem of slash-and-burn agriculture. Agroforestry Today 5: 2–6.Google Scholar
- Bhattacharya, T.K. 1965. Myths of the Shimongs of the Upper Siang. Shillong: North-east Frontier Agency.Google Scholar
- Borah, D., and N.R. Goswami. 1973. A comparative study of crop production under shifting and terrace cultivation: A case study in Garo hills, Meghalaya. Ad hoc Study No. 35, Agro-economic Research Centre for North East India, Assam Agricultural University, India.Google Scholar
- Borang, A. 1997. Shifting cultivation among the Adi tribes of Arunachal Pradesh. Journal of Human Ecology 6: 145–151.Google Scholar
- Carlson, K.M., L.M. Curran, D. Ratnasari, A.M. Pittman, B.S. Soares-Filho, G.P. Asner, S.N. Trigg, D.A. Gaveau, D. Lawrence, H.O. Rodrigues, et al. 2012. Committed carbon emissions, deforestation, and community land conversion from oil palm plantation expansion in West Kalimantan, Indonesia. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 109: 7559–7564.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
- Census of India. 2011. New Delhi: Registrar General & Census Commissioner of India. Retrieved 1 January, 2013, from http://censusindia.gov.in/.
- Colfer, C.J.P. 2008. The longhouse of the tarsier: Changing landscape, gender, and well being in Borneo. Maine: Borneo Research Council Inc.Google Scholar
- Das, G. 1997. Agriculture in Arunachal Pradesh: Trends and problems of objective assessment. In Trends in agrarian structure in the hills of north-east India, ed. M.C. Behera and N.C. Roy, 41–54. New Delhi: Commonwealth Publishers.Google Scholar
- Divakar, G.D. 1990. Cropping pattern, growth rates and yield stability of different crops under Ri-riad and Kynti and Roytiwari land systems. Paper presented at the National Seminar on Agrarian relations in NE India, NIRD, NE Regional Centre, Guwahati, India.Google Scholar
- Erni, C. 2015. Shifting cultivation, livelihood and food security: New and old challenges for indigenous peoples in Asia. Bangkok: Food and Agriculture Organization, International Work Group for Indigenous Affairs, Asia Indigenous Peoples Pact.Google Scholar
- Fox, J. 2000. How blaming ‘slash and burn’ farmers is deforesting mainland Southeast Asia. Asia Pacific Issues 47: 1–8.Google Scholar
- Fox, J., J.C. Castella, A.D. Ziegler, et al. 2011. Swidden, Rubber and Carbon: Can REDD+ work for people and the environment in Montane Mainland Southeast Asia? CCAFS Working Paper No. 9. CGIAR Research Program on Climate Change, Agriculture and Food Security (CCAFS). Copenhagen, Denmark. www.ccafs.cgiar.org.
- FSI. 2011. State of Forest Report. Dehradun: Forest Survey of India.Google Scholar
- Gadgil, M., and R. Guha. 1992. This fissured land: An ecological history of India. Melbourne: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
- Harwood, R.R. 1979. Small farm development: Understanding and improving farming systems in the humid tropics. Boulder: Westview Press for International Agricultural Development Service.Google Scholar
- Jamir, A. 2015. Shifting options: A case study of shifting cultivation in Mokokchung district in Nagaland, India. In Shifting cultivation, livelihood and food security: New and old challenges for indigenous people in Asia, ed. C. Erni. Bangkok: Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations and International Work Group for Indigenous Affairs and Asia Indigenous Peoples Pact.Google Scholar
- Jha, L.K. 1997. Shifting cultivation. New Delhi: APH Publishing Corporation.Google Scholar
- Lianzela. 1997. Effects of shifting cultivation on the environment: With special reference to Mizoram. International Journal of Social Economics 24: 785–790.Google Scholar
- Maithani, B.P. 2005. Shifting cultivation in north-east India: Policy, issues and options. New Delhi: Mittal Publications.Google Scholar
- Malik, B. 2003. The problem of shifting cultivation in the Garo Hills of north-east India, 1860–1970. Conservation and Society 1: 287–315.Google Scholar
- Murtem, G., G.N. Sinha, J. Dopum, et al. 2008. Jhumias view on shifting cultivation in Arunachal Pradesh. Bulletin of Arunachal Forest Research 24: 35–40.Google Scholar
- Nakro, V. 2011. Traditional agricultural practices and sustainable livelihood, a thematic report. Published by Department of Planning and Coordination, Government of Nagaland, Nagaland.Google Scholar
- Neog, A.K. 1997. Transforming hill agriculture in tribal areas in north-east India. In Trends in agrarian structure in the hills of north-east India, ed. M.C. Behera and N.C. Roy, 99–108. New Delhi: Commonwealth Publishers.Google Scholar
- Nyori, T. 1993. History and culture of the Adis. New Delhi: Omsons Publications.Google Scholar
- Raj, S. 2010. Traditional knowledge, innovation systems and democracy for sustainable agriculture: A case study on Adi tribes of eastern Himalayas of north-east India. In ISDA 2010, 10 pp. Montpellier: Cirad-Inra-SupAgro.Google Scholar
- Ramakrishnan, P.S. 1992. Shifting agriculture and sustainable development: An interdisciplinary study from north-eastern India. MAB Series, vol. 10. Paris: UNESCO.Google Scholar
- Rambo, A.T. 1996. The composite swiddening agroecosystem of the Tay ethnic minority of the northwestern mountains of Vietnam. In Montane Mainland Southeast Asia in transition, ed. B. Rerkasem, 69–89. Chiang Mai: Chiang Mai University.Google Scholar
- Ranjan, R., and V.P. Upadhyay. 1999. Ecological problems due to shifting cultivation. Current Science 77: 1246–1250.Google Scholar
- Richards, P.W. 1952. The tropical rainforest. London: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
- Roy, S. 1966. Aspects of Padam Minyong culture. Itanagar: Directorate of Research.Google Scholar
- Roy, N.C. 1997. Agricultural productivity in Arunachal Pradesh. In Trends in agrarian structure in the hills of north-east India, ed. M.C. Behera and N.C. Roy, 55–59. New Delhi: Commonwealth Publishers.Google Scholar
- Spencer, J.E. 1966. Shifting cultivation in Southeastern Asia. Berkeley: University of California Press.Google Scholar
- Swinton, S.M. 2000. More social capital, less erosion: Evidence from Peru’s Altiplano. Paper presented at the annual meeting of the American Agricultural Economics Association, Tampa, FL, 30 July–2 August 2, 2000.Google Scholar
- Teegalapalli, K., and A. Datta. In Press. The role of the Government and local institutions in regulating shifting cultivation in the Upper Siang district, Eastern Himalaya, India. In Shifting cultivation policy: Trying to get it right, ed. M.F. Cairns. Routledge: Earthscan.Google Scholar
- Wasteland Atlas 2000. 2008–2009. Wastelands atlas of India, prepared by National Remote Sensing Centre, Department of Land Resources, Ministry of Rural Development, India.Google Scholar
- Watters, R.F. 1971. Shifting cultivation in Latin America. FAO Forestry Development Paper No. 17, Rome, 303 pp.Google Scholar
- WRI. 1985. Tropical forests: A call for action. 1: The Plan. Washington, DC: World Resources Institute.Google Scholar
- Yumnam, J., S.I. Bhuyan, M.L. Khan, O.P. Tripathi, et al. 2011. Agro-diversity of East Siang-Arunachal Pradesh, Eastern Himalaya. Asian Journal of Agricultural Sciences 3: 317–326.Google Scholar