A diagnostic survey of shifting cultivation in northern Laos : targeting research to improve sustainability and productivity uri icon

abstract

  • About 25% of Laos' four million people practise shifting cultivation (mainly of rice) on a third of the country's cropped area. Official policy is to eliminate shifting cultivation by the year 2000. Diagnostic surveys of shifting cultivation were conducted in Luang Prabang and Oudomsay Provinces in northern Laos to understand the practice from a farmer's perspective, to observe fields, and to identify and give priority to problems and research to address problems. Weeds, low and possibly declining soil fertility, intensification of the cropping cycle, rats (plus birds, wild pigs), and insects lowered rice yields or reduced system sustainability. The forest ecosystem has been degraded by logging, burning, and rice monocropping; and potentials for environmental rehabilitation through natural succession are minimal. Farmers cannot adopt high labor and cash cost innovations; and improved fallow is needed as an intermediate step prior to crop diversification, adoption of agroforestry technologies, and sedentary agriculture.

publication date

  • 1991
  • 1991