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How Did Shifting Cultivation Impact Social, Environmental, And Economical Aspects Of Southeast Asia?

865 words - 4 pages

Shifting cultivation is defined as “a productive system of agriculture in which small plots are cleared in forestlands, the dried brush is burned to release nutrients, and the clearings are planted with multiple species; each plot is used for only 2 or 3 years and then abandoned for many years of regrowth” (Pulsipher 2000 “Glossary”) Indigenous settlers in forested uplands, river floodplains/deltas, coastlines, and mountainous mainland which make up 60% of the population in SE Asia, have thrived using shifting cultivation as well as hunting/gathering and other agricultural techniques for the past 1000 years. (Pulsipher 2000 “Southeast Asia”) Shifting cultivation has impacted Southeast Asia ...view middle of the document...

This crop has influenced the increased smugglings and trafficking in the Golden Triangle, which is “an area of Southeast Asia encompassing parts of Burma, Laos, and Thailand, significant as a major source of opium and heroin.” (Collins English Dictionary 2014)
Another way shifting cultivation impacted SE Asia is that the government took initiative in eliminating shifting cultivation in terms of opium and alternative cash crops. The government suppressed shifting cultivation because it promoted the widely-profitable but illegal drug trade with opium. They were mainly influenced by the international campaign for eliminating opium farming. A good example of this change is when Thailand hit is peak of opium farming when it produced around 16,500 tons of opium per 18,000 hectares in 1965 to 1966. Ever since it has been decreasing, and in 1999 to 2000, Thailand produced about 400 tons of opium per 400 hectares. The government stated that the primitive shifting cultivation also destroyed the landscape, mainly forests cause of the slashing and burning technique. This government act also contributed to the low percentage of 5% shifting cultivation in total forests. The government instigated other “cash crop” agriculture like annuals, perennials, fruit trees, and plantations. They also ceased village migration so they wouldn’t be encouraged to destroy the nearby cropland and instead initiate farming cultivation in a permanent area. Overall, the government called “cash crop” agriculture modernly effiecient, the illegal opium alternative, permanent land use, and the settling of nomadic peoples, who are always on the move (sedentarization).
Alternative/permanent land use also has varying negative affects. Mono-cultural large-scale farming, controlled by small-holders are highly competitive for land, water, and other...

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