Saturday, July 20, 2024
General Agriculture

Advantages, Disadvantages and Prospects of Shifting Cultivation

Shifting Cultivation is a farming system that is known to be practiced by farmers all over the world. The system by its nature has its own advantages and disadvantages as well as its prospects.

Advantages of Shifting Cultivation

There are various effects of shifting cultivation as it is known to involve large scale deforestation. This activity results in undesirable ecological imbalances.

A Report on Crop Husbandry stated that the clearance of forest causes deforestation which accelerates soil erosion and also causes irregularity and variability in rainfall distribution. The earlier 15-20 year cycle of shifting cultivation on a particular land has reduced to 2-3 years now.

This has resulted in large-scale deforestation, soil and nutrient loss, and invasion by weeds and other species. The land under shifting cultivation loses its nutrients and the top soil. With reduction in crop yield, the families start moving to other virgin areas.

With the aforementioned, The Report on Crop Husbandry identified some of the advantages of Shifting Cultivation. They are;

Frequent shifting from one land to the other has affected the ecology of these regions.

The area under natural forest has declined and the disappearance of native species of medicinal plants and invasion by exotic weeds and other plants having adverse effect on the land.

It is a very useful for the people living in the hills as it has been known as it is the easiest method used by the people in the cultivation of their crops since small bushes and weeds can be easily removed with small simple farm tools.

With Shifting Cultivation, there is good fertility of the soil that guarantees a short period of sowing of crops and the harvesting of the crops.

Through Shifting Cultivation, the used land naturally regains the lost nutrients without any help from modern methods of replenishing the soil.

The method of Shifting Cultivation is very much environmental friendly since it does not involve use of any chemical means of replenishing soil nutrients; rather it helps in organic degradation.

Shifting Cultivation due to its nature of farmers moving from one place to another also helps to control or prevent soil borne diseases.

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It provides the very easy and very fast method of the preparation of the land for the agriculture.

Shift Cultivation helps to guide against the fear of the danger of flood and the animals which destroy the crops

The land can be easily recycled or regenerated thus; it receives seeds and nutrients from the nearing vegetation or environment

Shift farming saves a wide range of resources and provides nutrients because a small area is usually cleared and the burned vegetation offers many nutrients

It helps to ensure more productivity and sustainability of agriculture

It also reduces the rate of environmental degradation.

The farming system is mainly used to practice mixed cropping system and so different and large varieties of crops are produced for the farmers consumption.

xii. In most cases, bush burning is usually the practice in Shifting Cultivation and the burning helps to prevent the infestation of pests and weeds.

Disadvantages of Shifting Cultivation

Advantages, Disadvantages and Prospects of Shifting Cultivation

Most of the things of the world that have advantages always have their disadvantages. To this end in view, a report on Ecological Problems on Shifting Cultivation pointed out some of the disadvantages of Shifting Cultivation to include;

The system of Shifting Cultivation leads to the destruction of forest and in the process, wild plants, medicinal plants and timber is lost.

Destruction of forest results to heavy soil erosion which ends up destroying the soil for crop production or other use.

With population explosion, sooner or later everywhere will soon be taken over by the practice of Shifting Cultivation thereby resulting to degradation or loss of nutrients across without any natural means of replenishing them.

The system involve large scale of deforestation goes a long way in increasing global warming.

The system to some consideration is uneconomical since it involves clearing a new land and sometimes moving from one place to another

The system leads to reduction of soil fertility hence the farmer’s abandons it for another.

The system disturbs the many eco-systems of the region where it is practiced due to the destruction of forest.

Going by the system of Shifting Cultivation, Slash and burn is the usual practice and may cause environmental and economic consequences by reducing the growth potential for crops in certain areas, which limits the variety and quantity of agricultural goods farmers can produce.

The system can only be possible with the availability of land, otherwise it will not be possible

The system results to low efficiency in labour utilization.

It easily leads to loss of biodiversity

The wild animals loss their shelter through the deforestation process.

Ecology is disturbed and distorted which never restored

Prospects of Shifting Cultivation

Advantages, Disadvantages and Prospects of Shifting Cultivation

Shifting cultivation systems are ecologically viable as long as there is enough land for long (10– 20 years) restorative fallow, and expectations of crop yield and the attendant standards of living are not too high.

These systems are naturally suited for harsh environments and fragile ecosystems of the tropics. That is why attempts at finding viable alternatives to shifting cultivation have met with only limited success.

The goal is to restore soil quality, replace what is removed, and respond wisely to what has been changed by natural and anthropogenic perturbations. Payments to farmers for sequestration of carbon and other ecosystem services are good strategies of promoting the adoption of best management practices.

The most attractive feature according to Ecological Report on Shifting Cultivation is that these disadvantages can be managed through:

Quality education to help the farmers understand the consequences of shift cultivation and how to manage its use for a better agricultural practice.

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Agro-forestry otherwise known as taungya which involves growing crops and trees at the same time thus enabling farmers to grow crops and trees at the same time. This method makes it possible that for crops and trees to grow at the same time thereby, preventing soil erosion. Crops also benefit from dead organic matter

Shifting Cultivation process also makes it possible for selective logging to be practiced. Through this logs can be provided for wood and as fuel.

The farming method also gives room for certain forest reserves by protecting certain areas from cultivation.

Afforestation where cut trees are replaced to maintain the health of canopy is also possible even when Shifting Cultivation has taken place. So the land can still be replaced of its cut forest.

Advantages, Disadvantages and Prospects of Shifting Cultivation

Close monitoring by use of advanced technology as well as photography to check any activities that take place hence, ensuring sustainability.

Instead of the restriction of the method of Shifting Cultivation, the method can be improved and through this a new variety of crop or commercial trees can be grown as an additional crop which increases soil fertility and reduces soil erosion.

Arable land can also be provided to the tribals or natives for carrying out agriculture and also to settle in the area

Providing employment opportunities and income generation on a regular basis through proper utilization of the land resources, i.e. by equitable distribution of waste land among the tribals. But, the various schemes of the Government, under the tribal plan, will have to pump in sufficient resources for proper reclamation and development of the wasteland through agro-forestry and silvi-pasture practices.

By encouraging cooperative efforts for carrying out forest-based activities, i.e. basket making, rope making, cane furniture processing of minor forest produce, honey collection, etc. have to be made commercially viable by providing proper marketing facilities. This will help the people to be interested in practice of Shifting Cultivation that will also help them monetarily.

Generating employment opportunities during the lean season of forestry operations will also prevent tribals from shifting to other areas. This form of employments could take different forms.

By ensuring implementation of total literacy campaign; which due to remoteness and un- supportive attitude of tribals, has not been successful.

For educating tribal women and children, services of various non-Governmental organizations and voluntary agencies, besides the regular Government machinery, are on required sustainable basis rather than with a targeted approach.

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Benadine Nonye is an agricultural consultant and a writer with several years of professional experience in the agriculture industry. - National Diploma in Agricultural Technology - Bachelor's Degree in Agricultural Science - Master's Degree in Science Education - PhD Student in Agricultural Economics and Environmental Policy... Visit My Websites On: 1. - Your Comprehensive Practical Agricultural Knowledge and Farmer’s Guide Website! 2. - For Effective Environmental Management through Proper Waste Management and Recycling Practices! Join Me On: Twitter: @benadinenonye - Instagram: benadinenonye - LinkedIn: benadinenonye - YouTube: Agric4Profits TV and WealthInWastes TV - Pinterest: BenadineNonye4u - Facebook: BenadineNonye

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