Livelihood Activities of Swiddeners Under the Transition of Swidden Agriculture: A Case Study in a Khmu Village, Northern Laos

  • Nyein Chan
  • Lamphoune Xayvongsa
  • Shinya Takeda
Part of the Asia in Transition book series (AT, volume 7)


The proportional extent of swidden cultivation in Laos is greater than in any other Southeast Asian country. Yet since 1975, the government of Laos has made attempts to eradicate, or at least reduce, swidden cultivation through a village relocation policy predicated upon security concerns, through a “shifting cultivation” eradication policy, and a land and forest allocation program. Recently, the Land Allocation Programme (LAP), known as the “Three-Plot Policy,” was introduced across the country. This chapter presents a case study from the Khmu area, northern Laos, where land available for swidden culture was limited by LAP implemented in 2011. The chapter shows how this policy created difficulties for villagers to pursue traditional swidden practice. It presents the crucial role swidden cultivation plays in the livelihoods of the Khmu swidden cultivators and highlights a notable shift from traditional to semicommercialized practices. This chapter clarifies the possible impacts of changes in swidden and argues that any future planning of REDD+—as the government has attempted to promote it in swidden fallows, requires detailed observation of the role and function of swidden cultivation for livelihood purposes.


REDD+ Khmu swiddeners Land and forest allocation programme Semicommercialization Livelihood 



This study is a part of collaborative research between Faculty of Forest Science, National University of Laos and Graduate School of Asian and African Area Studies, Kyoto University, focusing on the local use of forest resources in Northern Laos. It was supported financially by Grants-in-Aid from the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology, Government of Japan (21255003, 15K01877). We are grateful to the National University of Laos (NUoL) for their cooperation in conducting this collaborative study in Northern Laos, and to the local people of village S for their support and participation. This study would not have been possible without the support of the District Agriculture and Forestry Office (DAFO) and Provincial Agriculture and Forestry Office (PAFO). Special thanks also go to the final-year students of the Faculty of Forest Science, NUoL, Lao PDR, for their assistance during this study.


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Copyright information

© Springer Nature Singapore Pte Ltd. 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Nyein Chan
    • 1
  • Lamphoune Xayvongsa
    • 2
  • Shinya Takeda
    • 3
  1. 1.Department of Pollution Control and Waste ManagementUniversity of Forestry and Environmental ScienceNay Pi TawMyanmar
  2. 2.Faculty of Forest ScienceNational University of LaosLaosLao People’s Democratic Republic
  3. 3.Graduate School of Asian and African Studies (ASAFAS)Kyoto UniversityKyotoJapan

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