What are the Characteristics of Farming who Practice Shifting Cultivation?

i. People who practice shifting cultivation generally live in a small village and grow food in the surrounding land which the village controls.

Natural Resources and Environment: General information

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ii. Each year, the villagers designate an area around the village settlement for planting.

iii. The trees at the selected site are cut down with axes sparing only those are economically useful. The cleared area is known by a variety of names throughout the world including swidden, milpa and kaingin.


At places the forests are burnt to clear the land of vegetation and therefore this type of farming is also called slash-and-burn agriculture.

iv. The cultivated patches are usually very small, about 0.5-1 hectare, scattered in their distribution and separated from one another by dense forests or bush.

v. Before planting, fields are prepared by hand, with the help of simple implements such as hoes and sticks, or crude wooden ploughs are used to till the soils.

vi. A number of different crops are simultaneously grown in the same plot, such as cereals, roots and shrubs. Most of the cultivated land is devoted to subsistence crops, such as manioc (sweet cassava), yams, taros, peanuts, cucumbers, tomatoes, pimentos, beans, peas and bananas.


vii. The land is used to grow crops for only a short time, usually three years or less. When the cleared area (Sweden) is no longer fertile, the villagers identify a new site and begin the process of clearing the field.

The old site is left uncropped for many years and is allowed to be overrun again by natural vegetation.

viii. Traditionally, land is owned by the village as a whole rather than each resident.

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