Shifting Cultivation in Bhutan: A Gradual Approach to Modifying Land Use Patterns

A CASE STUDY FROM PEMA GATSHEL DISTRICT, BHUTAN

Community Forestry Case Study
Series 11













Table of Contents


by Kumar P. Upadhyay

The designations employed and the presentation of the material in this information product do not imply the expression of any opinion whatsoever on the part of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations concerning the legal status of any country, territory, city or area or of its authorities, or concern-ing the delimitation of its frontiers or boundaries.

All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying or otherwise, without the prior permission of the copyright owner. Applications for such permission, with a statement of the purpose and extent of the reproduction, should be addressed to the Director, Information Division, Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, Viale delle Terme di Caracalla, 00100 Rome, Italy

Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations
FAO 1995

Table of Contents


List of Maps, Tables and Figures

Preface

Executive Summary

Chapter 1 - Introduction

Background to the study

Objectives of the study

Scope of the study

Chapter 2 - Physical Environment and Land Use in Bhutan

The physical environment

Area and population
Physical characteristics
Vegetation
Farming systems and practices
Livestock grazing

Forestry in land use

Forest cover
Forest management
Rights, privileges and ownership of forest resources

Cultivation systems

Chapter 3 - Perms Gatshel: The Study Area

The study method

Physical characteristics of the study area

Forest land

Population,settlement pattern and land use

Landownership pattern and land tenure

Farming systems

Major crops and land management practices in cultivated land

Chapter 4 - The State of Shifting Cultivation in the Study Area

Defining shifting cultivation

Shifting cultivation in Bhutan

Districts with critical shifting cultivation problems
Government policy on shifting cultivation

The shifting cultivators of Pema Gatshel

Historical background
Local farmers' attitude towards shifting cultivation practices
Area covered by shifting cultivation practices in Pema Gatshel
Field practices in shifting cultivation
Labour requirements and returns in shifting cultivation
Factors influencing continuation of shifting cultivation practices in Peina Gatshel
The importance of shifting cultivation in Pema Gatshel
Impact of shifting cultivation practices
Farmers' perception of alternatives to shifting cultivation

Chapter 5 - Developing a Model for the Gradual Phasing-Out of Shifting Cultivation

Policy considerations

Some suggested policy improvements

The case for a gradualreduction of shifting cultivation

A proposed model for a three-stage programme to reduce shifting cultivation

Years 0-5: the pilot demonstration and infrastructure development phase
Years 5-10: the consolidation phase
Years 10-15: the expansion phase

Essential elements for the design of the pilot project.

Criteria for site selection for the pilot demonstration project
Objectives of the pilot demonstration project
Programmes and activities for immediate implementation under the pilot project
Benefits and outputs expected from the pilot project

Chapter 6 - Discussion and Conclusions

Factors influencing evolution of present land use

The biophysical setting: the principal factor in land use
The influence of population dynamics
Land allotment practices and access to public land
The influence of economic development on land use changes
Issues related to inefficient land utilization and low production per unit area
Issues related to environmental degradation due to inappropriate land use practices
Difficulties related to implementing intensive agriculture
Issues related to diversification of farm labour from land-based employment to other productive employment

The economic productivity of shifting cultivation

Environmental concerns often associated with shifting cultivation

Practicability of retaining shifting cultivation

Alternatives to shifting cultivation

Nationalization of all land under shifting cultivation
Improvement to the existing shifting cultivation system
Combining forestry and food production
Conversion to permanent cultivated land

Appendices

APPENDIX A - Rainfall, Temperature and Cropping Calendar

Determinants of the cropping calendar

Yields and cropping intensities

APPENDIX B - Livestock Husbandry

Pasture composition

APPENDIX C - Forest Productivity and Sustained Yield Estimates

Production and productivity

APPENDIX D - The Calendar of Activities for Shifting Cultivation

APPENDIX E - Woody Legumes for Trial on Long-fallow Land

Glossary

Currency

Abbreviations and Acronyms

References


List of Maps, Tables and Figures

MAP. Administrative map of Bhutan

MAP 1. Physical map of Bhutan

MAP 2. River system of Bhutan

Map 3. Pema Gatshel district infrastructure map

Map 4. Districts with shifting cultivation problem

Map 5. Uni Chu pilot demonstration watershed

 

TABLE 1: NUMBER OF HOUSEHOLDS, ESTIMATED POPULATION AND POPULATION DENSITY

TABLE 2: LAND USE TYPES IN PEMA GATSHEL COMPARED TO THE WHOLE OF BHUTAN (Area in km2, percentage in parentheses)

TABLE 3: LANDHOLDING PER HOUSEHOLD IN PEMA GATSHEL DISTRICT (Average household has seven members)

TABLE 4: BLOCKWISE LANDHOLDINGS BY HOUSEHOLD IN PEMA GATSHEL (Average household has seven members)

TABLE 5: PERCENTAGE HOME CONSUMPTION AND SALE OF THE MAJOR FARM PRODUCE

TABLE 6: DISTRIBUTION OF TSHERI LAND (percentage of households)

TABLE 7: CROPPING MIXES FOR TSHERI FIELDS IN PEMA GATSHEL

TABLE 8: LAND EVALUATION GUIDELINES FOR CONVERSION FROM TSHERI TO KAMSHING

TABLE 9: TREATMENT-ORIENTED LAND CAPABILITY SCHEME FOR MOUNTAINOUS AREAS

TABLE 10: MEAN MONTHLY RAINFALL AT SOME SELECTED STATIONS (in millimetres)

TABLE 11: MAXIMUM AND MINIMUM TEMPERATURES AT SELECTED STATIONS (degrees Celsius)

TABLE 12: YIELD OF MAJOR CROPS

TABLE 13: YIELD OF MAJOR HORTICULTURAL CROPS

TABLE 14: CROPPING INTENSITY BY REGION

TABLE 15: FOREST COVER DISTRIBUTION IN BHUTAN

TABLE 16: GROWING STOCK AND YIELD

TABLE 17: ACTIVITY CALENDAR FOR SHIFTING CULTIVATORS

TABLE 18: LIST OF WOODY LEGUMES FOR POSSIBLE TRIAL

 

Photo 1. A view of Nangkor, Khangma and Vurung villages.

Photo 2. Terrace cultivation in Zobel village.

Photo 3: Local breed of cattle.

Photo 4: Maize cultivation on tsheri land, which has been cleared after a fallow period of about two years

Photo 5: Maize cultivation in Pangshing.

Photo 6: Mustard and buckwheat cultivation in winter.

Photo 7: Intercropping of maize and bean is done for the second crop sown during August and September.

 

Figure 1: Land Use in Bhutan


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