Shifting Cultivation, Livelihood and Food Security New and Old Challenges for Indigenous Peoples in Asia
This briefing note presents the findings of seven case studies conducted from May to June 2014. The studies were conducted in Bangladesh, Cambodia, India, Indonesia, Laos, Nepal and Thailand and looked into the livelihood and food security among indigenous shifting cultivation communities in South and Southeast Asia. The briefing note provides a summary of the main findings of the case studies and the common recommendations from a multi-stakeholders consultation held August 28-29 in Chiang Mai, Thailand. Participants at the multi-stakeholder consultation included government agencies, UN agencies, regional NGOs, Indigenous Peoples’ organisations, community leaders, and local governments. Shifting cultivation and food security Across South and Southeast Asia a large number of people depend for their livelihood and food security fully or partly on shifting cultivation. The majority of the people practicing shifting cultivation in South and Southeast Asia belong to ethnic groups that are referred to as ethnic minorities, tribal people, hill tribes, aboriginal people or, as they increasingly call themselves, Indigenous Peoples. Shifting cultivation is probably one of the most misunderstood and thus controversial forms of land use. Over the past decades, arguments brought forward against this form of land use – that it is an economically inefficient and ecologically harmful practice – have been proven inaccurate or outright wrong. Yet, shifting cultivators are still widely discriminated and neglected and in most countries their land and resource rights are not recognized and protected. The studies take stock of the changes in livelihood and food security among indigenous shifting cultivation communities in South and Southeast Asia against the backdrop of the rapid socio-economic transformations currently engulfing the region.