Who Counts? Demography of Swidden Cultivators in Southeast Asia

Mertz, Ole; Leisz, Stephan J.; Heinimann, Andreas; Thiha, Kanok Rerkasem; Dressler, Wolfram; Cu Pham, Van; Kim Chi, Vu; Schmidt-Vogt, Diwreixh; Colfer, Carol J.P.; Epprecht, Michael; Padoch, Cchristine; Potter, Lesley (2009). Who Counts? Demography of Swidden Cultivators in Southeast Asia. Human ecology, 37(3), pp. 281-289. New-York, NY: Springer 10.1007/s10745-009-9249-y

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Swidden cultivators are often found as a distinct category of farmers in the literature, but rarely appear in population censuses or other national and regional classifications. This has led to a worldwide confusion on how many people are dependent on this form of agriculture. The most often cited number of 200–300 million dates back to the early 1970s, but the source is obscure. We assess available, published data from nine countries in Southeast Asia and conclude that on this basis it is not possible to provide a firm estimate of the number of swidden cultivators in the region. A conservative range of 14–34 million people engaged in swidden cultivation in the region is suggested, however. We argue that along with improved knowledge of swidden livelihoods, there is an urgent need to develop techniques that will allow for better estimates of swidden populations in order to secure appropriate rural development and poverty reduction in swidden areas.

Item Type:

Journal Article (Original Article)


08 Faculty of Science > Institute of Geography > Geographies of Sustainability
08 Faculty of Science > Institute of Geography > NCCR North-South Management Centre [discontinued]
10 Strategic Research Centers > Centre for Development and Environment (CDE)

UniBE Contributor:

Heinimann, Andreas and Epprecht, Michael


300 Social sciences, sociology & anthropology > 330 Economics








Factscience Import

Date Deposited:

04 Oct 2013 15:21

Last Modified:

24 Jun 2015 08:29

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Web of Science ID:





https://boris.unibe.ch/id/eprint/36570 (FactScience: 205304)

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