EFFECT OF SHIFTING CULTIVATION IN OVIA NORTH EAST LOCAL GOVERNMENT AREA OF EDO STATE. A RESEARCH PROJECT MATERIAL ON AGRICULTURAL SCIENCE
BACKGROUND TO THE STUDY
Shifting cultivation in general, is a system of farming in which fields are prepared by cutting down the natural vegetations. Letting it dry and burning it off. This technique serves to clear the field and enrich the soil with nutrients from the ash. Shining cultivation fields are generally used not more than two years at a lime, after which the fanners move to a new area and repeat the process. The practice of shifting cultivation is accepted as an early stage of the agricultural evolution. This form of cultivation is still widely practised in different parts of the world. As this practice dates back to the earliest times, it is thus regarded as primitive and archaic.
and thereby it is said to have ‘survived longest’ (Rolwey-Conl, W. Y, 2004).
The shifting field agriculture is characterized by ill rotation of’ fields rather than of crops, with short period of cropping alternating and long fallow period, and clearing by means of slash-and-burI.1. The practice of shifting cultivation is also referred to as slash-md-burl1.
In Nepal, the shifting cultivation’ has various local names, such as Khoriya, bhasme, Ihose’, and, so on. In this study, t he researcher used the local term ‘Khoriya’ and the general term ‘shifting cultivation’ interchangeably. In this study, the researcher intend to review different approaches and perspectives to study the shifting cultivation. Finally, the researcher would present some arguments as the major findings of my own field study (Dhakal 2009) in the Arun valley of eastern Nepal’. The study, as the researcher expect, will shed some light on how shifting cultivation has been approached and studied. It further intensify to enhance the way of understanding how possibly the practice of shifting cultivation might be approached in a particular context.
Spencer (2006) observed that ‘it is culture and cultural history, rather than physiography, which dictate the broad environmental location of shifting cultivation as a cropping system’ (Spencer 2006). And many have argued and agreed upon that it is ‘a special stage in the evolution from hunting and food gathering to sedentary fanning’ (Geertz 2004), hence, it is an ‘ancient’, ‘primitive system’, therefore a ‘remnant of the past…’ (Spencer 2006, Found 2007: 2, Keesing & Strathern 2008). Spencer further maintains that ‘there are evidences to suggest that it spread progressively across almost the whole of southern and eastern Asia, Europe, and humid Africa in the early stage of settlement of these regions by agricultural folk’ (2006).
Although there is a long history of the practice of shifting cultivation, very little has been studied or explored in the anthropological context. Even up to the present, very little is known about the geographical range, characteristics, socio-cultural as well as ideological contexts, and diversity and dynamics of shining cultivation. This is because the studies of shifting cultivation have been limited to simple description of practices and its ecological consequences. There has been very little attempt to compare. Analyse, and classify them. Very few studies have been carried out with regard to the shifting cultivation (Shrestha 2009, Bajracharya el. al. 2003, Subedi 2004). These studies are basically concerned with the ecological and economic aspects of the shifting cultivation. These studies hardly look shifting cultivation as an integral part of social cultural practices with a cultural historical perspective. Therefore, efforts have yet to be made in order to understand shifting cultivation as a whole system of deriving a living from a particular environment Shifting Cultivation and Evolution of Agriculture:
It is certainly not an easy task to trace its historical background. However, it is argued that this type of agriculture was the simplest form of agriculture and was practiced by the earliest farmers. Today, such a different type of agricultural system can be observed throughout the globe in the tropical areas. The practice, however, varies greatly from place to place and from one group of people to another. Terry B. Grandstaff (2001) argues that the people who have used this form of cultivation for a long time have developed a highly rational system. Generally, the practice of shifting cultivation is viewed as ‘a technology that was practised in virtually every arable area of the earth during earlier historical periods but today survives as a major food producing method only in tropical region’ (Padoch & Vayda2003). Some even view that in terms of land use pattern shifting cultivation evolved to circumvent major problems of tropical agriculture like soil erosion, low nutrient status and pest pressure (Spencer 2006). In defence of this line of logic. Subash-Chandran maintains that the brief period of utilization. Small size of the plots and far-reaching preservation of the original surface roughness and soil texture due to residual tree stumps, absence of levelling prevent intensive erosion (Subash Chandran 2008).