Shifting cultivation stability and change: Contrasting pathways of land use and livelihood change in Laos

Vongvisouk, Thoumthone; Mertz, Ole; Thongmanivong, Sithong; Heinimann, Andreas; Phanvilay, Khamla (2014). Shifting cultivation stability and change: Contrasting pathways of land use and livelihood change in Laos. Applied geography, 46, pp. 1-10. Elsevier 10.1016/j.apgeog.2013.10.006

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Rural areas in Laos are experiencing a rapid transformation from traditional rice-based shifting cultivation systems to more permanent and diversified market-oriented cultivation systems. The consequences of these changes for local livelihoods are not well known. This study analyzes the impact of shifting cultivation change on the livelihood of rural people in six villages in three districts of northern and central Laos. Focus group discussions and household interview questionnaires were employed for data collection. The study reveals that the shifting cultivation of rice is still important in these communities, but it is being intensified as cash crops are introduced. Changes in shifting cultivation during the past ten years vary greatly between the communities studied. In the northern study sites, it is decreasing in areas with rubber expansion and increasing in areas with maize expansion, while it is stable in the central site, where sugarcane is an important cash crop. The impacts of land use change on livelihoods are also diverse. Cash crop producers hold more agricultural land than non-cash crop producers, and rubber and sugarcane producers have fewer rice shortages than non-producers. In the future, livelihood improvements in the central study site may be replicated in the northern sites, but this depends to a large extent on the economic and agricultural settings into which cash crops and other development opportunities are introduced. Moreover, the expansion of cash crops appears to counteract Lao policies aimed at replacing shifting cultivation areas with forests.

Item Type:

Journal Article (Original Article)

Division/Institute:

08 Faculty of Science > Institute of Geography > Integrative Geography > Unit Geography of Sustainable Development
08 Faculty of Science > Institute of Geography > Integrative Geography > Unit Sustainable Land Management
08 Faculty of Science > Institute of Geography
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

Subjects:

300 Social sciences, sociology & anthropology > 330 Economics

ISSN:

0143-6228

Publisher:

Elsevier

Language:

English

Submitter:

Users 124 not found.

Date Deposited:

06 Aug 2014 08:53

Last Modified:

17 Oct 2015 15:23

Publisher DOI:

10.1016/j.apgeog.2013.10.006

BORIS DOI:

10.7892/boris.50781

URI:

https://boris.unibe.ch/id/eprint/50781

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