Economic Botany

, Volume 57, Issue 3, pp 389–402 | Cite as

Relocating plants from swidden fallows to gardens in Southwestern China

  • Yongneng Fu
  • Huijun Guo
  • Aiguo Chen
  • Jinyun Cui
  • Christine Padoch


As upland farmers in Southeast Asia change from shifting cultivation to permanent agriculture and lose access to swidden-fallow forests and their resources, they are introducing economically important forest and fallow plants into their house gardens. We describe this process in Daka, a village of Hani ethnicity in Yunnan Province, China. Daka smallholders collect both seeds and seedlings from fallow forests and transfer the plants to house gardens, initiating the transformation of wild species to a cultivated or semi-domesticated one. Two kinds of species are commonly transferred from swidden fallows to house gardens. Some are particularly rare, others are plants in great demand. Between 1998 and 2000 Daka households earned an average of US$68.20 annually from the products of fallow forests. We also found that villagers harvest and use 76 plant species from fallow forests and 126 species from house gardens. Twenty-two species found in house gardens that had been transferred from fallow forests. Households vary widely in the frequency with which they engage in this pattern. We believe that local knowledge of these practices is a potentially important resource in the development of other areas of smallholder farming.

Key Words

plant transfer fallow forests house gardens smallholder farmers Xishuangbanna Hani China 


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Copyright information

© The New York Botanical Garden Press 2003

Authors and Affiliations

  • Yongneng Fu
    • 1
  • Huijun Guo
    • 1
  • Aiguo Chen
    • 1
  • Jinyun Cui
    • 1
  • Christine Padoch
    • 2
  1. 1.Xishuangbanna Tropical Botanic GardenChinese Academy of SciencesMengla YunnanChina
  2. 2.Institute of Economic BotanyNew York Botanical GardenBronxU.S.A.

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