Traditional Shifting Cultivation [Bangladesh]


technologies_965 - Bangladesh

Completeness: 61%

1. General information

1.2 Contact details of resource persons and institutions involved in the assessment and documentation of the Technology

Key resource person(s)

SLM specialist:
Name of the institution(s) which facilitated the documentation/ evaluation of the Technology (if relevant)
Soil Resource Development Institute (SRDI) (Soil Resource Development Institute (SRDI)) - Bangladesh

1.3 Conditions regarding the use of data documented through WOCAT

The compiler and key resource person(s) accept the conditions regarding the use of data documented through WOCAT:


1.5 Reference to Questionnaire(s) on SLM Approaches (documented using WOCAT)

2. Description of the SLM Technology

2.1 Short description of the Technology

Definition of the Technology:

Traditional shifting cultivation is a rain-fed cultivation practice of the trible people of CHT (Chittagong Hill Tracts) for their subsistence, where natural vegetation is cleared off by slash-and-burn, to grow mixed annual crop for one year and then the land is left fallow for 3-5 years for natural regeneration.

2.2 Detailed description of the Technology


Jhum or Shifting cultivation is an age-old hill farming practice of CHT as elsewhere in the world, especially in the hilly region of the tropics and sub-tropics covering different agro-ecological zones. In this system the plant nutrients, which are gradually released in the soil, added from the atmosphere or from dust or silt deposition, accumulates in the fallow vegetation and in the soil during the fallow period. It is then utilized over a shorter period of time than the period of accumulation. In this rain-fed cultivation system an area is cleared off from natural vegetation by slash-and-burn, cropped for one or two years and then allowed to revert to natural vegetation. After some years, the area may be cleared and cropped again in the similar manner, but not necessarily within the same boundaries, nor by the same farmers.

This is a mixed cropping system of the ethnic people of CHT for their sustainable food supply . In Jhum system sowing and weeding are done without major topsoil disturbance using simple tools. Jhumias grow mixed crops like upland paddy, maize, sesame, flower, chilli , sour leaf, cucurbits, beans, turmeric, ginger, cotton, etc together but harvest the crops in succession. This cultivation system is not environment friendly as it declines soil fertility, acclerates soil erosion, and reduces biodiversity.

2.5 Country/ region/ locations where the Technology has been applied and which are covered by this assessment



Region/ State/ Province:

Chittagong Hill Tracts (CHT)

Specify the spread of the Technology:
  • evenly spread over an area
If the Technology is evenly spread over an area, specify area covered (in km2):


If precise area is not known, indicate approximate area covered:
  • 100-1,000 km2

Total area covered by the SLM Technology is 0.04 km2.

Shifting cultivation is the common practice of the tribal people and covers about 2.5% area of CHT region.

2.6 Date of implementation

If precise year is not known, indicate approximate date:
  • more than 50 years ago (traditional)

2.7 Introduction of the Technology

Specify how the Technology was introduced:
  • as part of a traditional system (> 50 years)
Comments (type of project, etc.):

From old generation

3. Classification of the SLM Technology

3.1 Main purpose(s) of the Technology

  • reduce, prevent, restore land degradation
  • preserve/ improve biodiversity

3.2 Current land use type(s) where the Technology is applied

Forest/ woodlands

Forest/ woodlands

Products and services:
  • Timber
  • Fuelwood
  • Shifting cultivation

Major land use problems (compiler’s opinion): Due to scarcity of land for judicial paddy production, the tribals have resorted to use marginal areas of CHT for Jhum. Unlike the past, the fallow period has reduced to 3-5 years from 15-20 years which has led to decline in the soil fertility, acclerated erosion, and diminishing trend of biodiversity.

Major land use problems (land users’ perception): Scarcity of plain land for paddy cultivation & no other alternatives for income generation. Besides labour scarcity, lack of financial support, weed & pest controlt, low fertiltiy etc. are the main constraints for optimum crop production.

Number of growing seasons per year: 1
Longest growing period in days: 8; Longest growing period from month to month: May - Dec

3.5 SLM group to which the Technology belongs

  • rotational systems (crop rotation, fallows, shifting cultivation)

3.6 SLM measures comprising the Technology

agronomic measures

agronomic measures

  • A1: Vegetation/ soil cover
  • A3: Soil surface treatment

3.7 Main types of land degradation addressed by the Technology

physical soil deterioration

physical soil deterioration

  • Pu: loss of bio-productive function due to other activities

3.8 Prevention, reduction, or restoration of land degradation

Specify the goal of the Technology with regard to land degradation:
  • prevent land degradation

4. Technical specifications, implementation activities, inputs, and costs

4.1 Technical drawing of the Technology

Technical specifications (related to technical drawing):

Technical knowledge required for field staff / advisors: high

Technical knowledge required for land users: high

Mixed cropping / intercropping
Material/ species: rice, maize, cucrubit, vegetables, pulses, spices
Quantity/ density: 55 kg of s
Remarks: ramdomly all over the hill slope

Agronomic measure: mixed cropping / intercrop
Material/ species: rice, maize, cucrubit, veg
Quantity/ density: 55 kg of s
Remarks: ramdomly all over the hill slope

Minimum tillage
Remarks: sowing of seed by dibbling with Dao

Trees/ shrubs species: Nitrogen fixing shrubs and trees

Change of land use type: Conversion of forest in to Jhum

Layout change according to natural and human environment

Control / change of species composition: As per requirement of the farmer

4.2 General information regarding the calculation of inputs and costs

other/ national currency (specify):


If relevant, indicate exchange rate from USD to local currency (e.g. 1 USD = 79.9 Brazilian Real): 1 USD =:


Indicate average wage cost of hired labour per day:


4.3 Establishment activities

Activity Timing (season)
1. Establisment of hedge rows

4.4 Costs and inputs needed for establishment


Duration of establishment phase: 12 month(s)

4.5 Maintenance/ recurrent activities

Activity Timing/ frequency
1. Dibbling Sowing Broadcasting May / once
2. Weeding 2, 5 & 10th week after sowing / Thrice
3. Fertilization before booting of paddy / 1-2 time
4. Pesticide application if required /
5. Harvesting, then Thrashing after maturity / in succession, after harvest / in succession
6. Pruning & gap filling

4.6 Costs and inputs needed for maintenance/ recurrent activities (per year)


The establishment cost referred to per hactare/year. As this is one year's shifting practice, so no recurring cost were incured.

4.7 Most important factors affecting the costs

Describe the most determinate factors affecting the costs:

Labor for land preparation (slashing & burning), sowing, weeding, watching and harvesting.

5. Natural and human environment

5.1 Climate

Annual rainfall
  • < 250 mm
  • 251-500 mm
  • 501-750 mm
  • 751-1,000 mm
  • 1,001-1,500 mm
  • 1,501-2,000 mm
  • 2,001-3,000 mm
  • 3,001-4,000 mm
  • > 4,000 mm
Specify average annual rainfall (if known), in mm:


Agro-climatic zone
  • sub-humid

5.2 Topography

Slopes on average:
  • flat (0-2%)
  • gentle (3-5%)
  • moderate (6-10%)
  • rolling (11-15%)
  • hilly (16-30%)
  • steep (31-60%)
  • very steep (>60%)
  • plateau/plains
  • ridges
  • mountain slopes
  • hill slopes
  • footslopes
  • valley floors
Altitudinal zone:
  • 0-100 m a.s.l.
  • 101-500 m a.s.l.
  • 501-1,000 m a.s.l.
  • 1,001-1,500 m a.s.l.
  • 1,501-2,000 m a.s.l.
  • 2,001-2,500 m a.s.l.
  • 2,501-3,000 m a.s.l.
  • 3,001-4,000 m a.s.l.
  • > 4,000 m a.s.l.
Comments and further specifications on topography:

Slopes on average: Also Moderate, rolling and very steep

5.3 Soils

Soil depth on average:
  • very shallow (0-20 cm)
  • shallow (21-50 cm)
  • moderately deep (51-80 cm)
  • deep (81-120 cm)
  • very deep (> 120 cm)
Soil texture (topsoil):
  • medium (loamy, silty)
  • fine/ heavy (clay)
Topsoil organic matter:
  • medium (1-3%)
  • low (<1%)
If available, attach full soil description or specify the available information, e.g. soil type, soil PH/ acidity, Cation Exchange Capacity, nitrogen, salinity etc.

Soil depth on average: Also deep

Soil fertility is predominant low but can reach up to high

Soil drainage / infiltration is good

Soil water storage capacity is predominant low but can reach up to high

5.6 Characteristics of land users applying the Technology

Off-farm income:
  • less than 10% of all income
Relative level of wealth:
  • very poor
  • poor
Indicate other relevant characteristics of the land users:

Population density: 50-100 persons/km2

Annual population growth: 2% - 3%

Off-farm income specification: 75% (engaged in market oriented production system, off-farm labour, business, jobs etc.)

5.8 Land ownership, land use rights, and water use rights

Land ownership:
  • state
  • communal/ village
Land use rights:
  • open access (unorganized)
  • leased

6. Impacts and concluding statements

6.4 Cost-benefit analysis

How do the benefits compare with the establishment costs (from land users’ perspective)?
Short-term returns:

slightly negative

Long-term returns:


How do the benefits compare with the maintenance/ recurrent costs (from land users' perspective)?
Short-term returns:

neutral/ balanced

Long-term returns:

neutral/ balanced

6.5 Adoption of the Technology

  • 1-10%
If available, quantify (no. of households and/ or area covered):

9 households covering 10 percent of the stated area

Of all those who have adopted the Technology, how many did so spontaneously, i.e. without receiving any material incentives/ payments?
  • 91-100%

100% of land user families have adopted the Technology without any external material support

Comments on spontaneous adoption: estimates

There is a little trend towards spontaneous adoption of the Technology

7. References and links

7.1 Methods/ sources of information

Links and modules

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