The purpose of this study was to investigate the effect of
shifting cultivation in Ovia North East Local Government Area of Edo State five
research questions were formulated and analyzed. The respondents were made up
of farmers in five community which are Ekiadolor Community, Okokhuo Community,
Ekoabetu Community, Iyowa community and Iguikhinmwin Community all in Ovia
North East Local Government Area of Edo State. All the respondents were
randomly selected from the five community one hundred farmers were used in a
whole. One set of instrument was used in collecting data for the study i.e.
questionnaires. The data collected from the respondents were analyzed using
simple percentages from the analysis of data, the following were the findings.
That farmers in Ovia North East Local Government Area of Edo State practice
shifting cultivation as a method of
farming. That the government is putting machinery in place to reduce the
practice of shifting cultivation in the local government area. That shifting cultivation has effect on the
forest cover among others. On a final note recommendations were made by the
researcher on how to meliorate the problem of shifting cultivation in Ovia North
East Local Government Area of Edo State.
TABLE OF CONTENT
Background of the study
Statement of problem
Purpose of the study
The significance of study
Scope of study
Objective of the study
Limitation of the study
Definition of terms
Population of study
Validation of research instrument
Method of data collection
Method of data analysis
Summary, conclusion and recommendation
1.1 BACKGROUND TO
Shifting cultivation in general, is a system of farming in
which fields are prepared by cutting down the natural vegetations. Letting it
dry and burning it off. This technique serves to clear the field and enrich the
soil with nutrients from the ash. Shining cultivation fields are generally used
not more than two years at a lime, after which the fanners move to a new area
and repeat the process. The practice of shifting cultivation is accepted as an
early stage of the agricultural evolution. This form of cultivation is still
widely practiced in different parts of the world. As this practice dates back
to the earliest times, it is thus regarded as primitive and archaic.
and thereby it is said to have ‘survived longest’
(Rolwey-Conl, W. Y, 2004).
The shifting field agriculture is characterized by ill
rotation of’ fields rather than of crops, with short period of cropping
alternating and long fallow period, and clearing by means of slash-and-burn.
The practice of shifting cultivation is also referred to as slash-and-burn.
Shifting cultivation’ has various local names, such as Khoriya, bhasme, Ihose’, and, so on. In this study, t
he researcher used the local term ‘Khoriya’ and the general term ‘shifting
cultivation’ interchangeably. In this study, the researcher intend to review
different approaches and perspectives to study the shifting cultivation.
Finally, the researcher would present some arguments as the major findings of
my own field study (Dhakal 2009)
in the Arun valley of eastern Nepal’. The study, as the researcher expect, will
shed some light on how shifting cultivation has been approached and studied. It
further intensify to enhance the way of understanding how possibly the practice
of shifting cultivation might be approached in a particular context.
Spencer (2006) observed that ‘it is culture and cultural
history, rather than physiography, which dictate the broad environmental
location of shifting cultivation as a cropping system’ (Spencer 2006). And many
have argued and agreed upon that it is ‘a special stage in the evolution from
hunting and food gathering to sedentary fanning’ (Geertz 2004), hence, it is an
‘ancient’, ‘primitive system’, therefore a ‘remnant of the past…’ (Spencer
2006, Found 2007: 2, Keesing & Strathern 2008). Spencer further maintains
that ‘there are evidences to suggest that it spread progressively across almost
the whole of southern and eastern Asia, Europe, and humid Africa in the early
stage of settlement of these regions by agricultural folk’ (2006).
Although there is a long history of the practice of shifting
cultivation, very little has been studied or explored in the anthropological
context. Even up to the present, very little is known about the geographical
range, characteristics, socio-cultural as well as ideological contexts, and
diversity and dynamics of shining cultivation. This is because the studies of
shifting cultivation have been limited to simple description of practices and
its ecological consequences. There has been very little attempt to compare. Analyse,
and classify them. Very few studies have been carried out with regard to the
shifting cultivation (Shrestha 2009, Bajracharya el. al. 2003, Subedi 2004).
These studies are basically concerned with the ecological and economic aspects
of the shifting cultivation. These studies hardly look shifting cultivation as
an integral part of social cultural practices with a cultural historical
perspective. Therefore, efforts have yet to be made in order to understand
shifting cultivation as a whole system of deriving a living from a particular
environment Shifting Cultivation and Evolution of Agriculture:
It is certainly not an easy task to trace its historical
background. However, it is argued that this type of agriculture was the
simplest form of agriculture and was practiced by the earliest farmers. Today,
such a different type of agricultural system can be observed throughout the
globe in the tropical areas. The practice, however, varies greatly from place
to place and from one group of people to another. Terry B. Grandstaff (2001)
argues that the people who have used this form of cultivation for a long time
have developed a highly rational system. Generally, the practice of shifting
cultivation is viewed as ‘a technology that was practised in virtually every arable
area of the earth during earlier historical periods but today survives as a
major food producing method only in tropical region’ (Padoch & Vayda2003).
Some even view that in terms of land use pattern shifting cultivation evolved
to circumvent major problems of tropical agriculture like soil erosion, low
nutrient status and pest pressure (Spencer 2006). In defence of this line of
logic. Subash-Chandran maintains that the brief period of utilization. Small
size of the plots and far-reaching preservation of the original surface
roughness and soil texture due to residual tree stumps, absence of levelling
prevent intensive erosion (Subash Chandran 2008).
Geertz summarized the distinctive features of shifting
cultivation as, (i.) it is practised on a very poor soils, (ii.) it represents
an elementary agricultural technique which utilizes no tool except the axe and
the hoe. (iii.) it is marked by a low density of population. and, (iv.) It
involves a low level of consumption (Geertz 2004). This type of cultivation is
thus associated with traditional societies of low population density in regions
of low soil fertility, such as the Amazon rainforest. Though recent theories
have suggested that the system of shifting agriculture combined with hunting
and gathering strategies may. in fact, permit much greater population densities
and a greater degree of sedentarism and varying degree of intensification of
labour input than was previously believed (Found 2007, Keesing & Slrathem
However, shifting cultivators are considered to be one of
the primary agents for transforming the forested landscape into cultivable and
cultural one. Historically, therefore, shifting cultivation has been one of the
processes transforming wild. forested landscape into cultural landscape. In a
strict epistemological sense, we cannot understand the past except via our
present knowledge of process and events operating in the present (Watson 2009).
This does not mean that every trait that existed in the past must have an
analogy in the present. Nevertheless, the study like this can provide a wider
socio-cultural context to analyse and explain archaeological data from specific
sites. In the similar manner, the study might be used as a case study to test
the hypothetical explanation of processes and procedures thought to have
occurred in specific prehistoric communities.
Shifting cultivation is a very popular agricultural practice
especially in the tropics. Christanty (2006) defined it as an agricultural
system which is characterized by a rotation of field rather than of crops,
short period of cropping (one to three years) alternated with long fallow
period (up to twenty or more years, but often as short as six to eight years);
and clearing by means of slash and burn. However, land used for agriculture and
nonagricultural purposes have created land scarcity, leading to shorter fallow
periods. In many cases, farmers have reduced their fallow periods below the
sustainable level necessary to maintain an ecological balance under shifting
cultivation (Harwood, 2006; Adesina et al., 2000; Brady,
2006; Essama-Nssah et al., 2002), thereby making the
traditional sustainable slash and burn agriculture unsustainable and
The increase in human populations and urbanization
particularly in the developing countries, have put tremendous pressure on land.
As human populations continue to grow, land use intensity increases, and the
negative effects of deforestation are likely to worsen (Chazdon, 2003). The
extension of arable cropping for increased food production has been directly
responsible for the reduction in forested areas. Reports have shown that 40% of
the land surface of the earth was converted into cropland and permanent pasture
by early 1990s (Rajiv and Upandhyay, 2009). Due to increase in human
populations, fallow periods of shifting cultivation have drastically reduced,
making the farmland to be infertile or
less fertile. As a result, the hunger for fertile forested
lands is on the increase just to meet the demand for food security in the rural
areas and to improve the economic situation of the rural dwellers.
Although, shifting cultivation is estimated to support the
livelihoods of some 300-500 million people worldwide (Brady, 2006), the slash
and burn tendency especially where fallow periods have drastically reduced due
to increasing populations, has grave implications for trees and the majority of
people that depend on them. The dependence of people on trees and forests is
unlimited. More than 25 percent of the world’s population – an estimated 1.5
billion people – relies on forest resources for their livelihoods, and of these
almost 1.2 billion live in extreme poverty (World Bank, 2001). Given the
importance of trees to the environment
and rural livelihoods, the need for empirical ecological
knowledge that will aid a systematic understanding of the impact of land use
intensification through shifting agriculture, on tree populations, cannot be
1.2 STATEMENT OF
Shifting cultivation is said to be one of the unsustainable
land uses contributing significantly to environmental degradation in Nigeria
(Luoga, 2000; Zahabu, 2008). Clearing forests for shifting cultivation can
contribute to climate change, biodiversity loss, reduced timber supply,
flooding, siltation, soil degradation and change of forest vegetation from
primary to secondary and eventually to grassland (Holden, 2001).
In the past, shifting cultivation was not considered to be
amongst unsustainable agricultural practices due to long fallow period allowing
enough time for regeneration (Luoga, 2000). Today due to increased population
pressure, high demand of cereals and growth of urban markets for forest
products shifting cultivation has been intensified with fallow period reduced
from 25 years to less than 3 years (Luoga, 2000; Mwampamba, 2009; Nduwamungu et
Despite the fact that shifting cultivation was identified
long time ago as a threat to tropical forests (FAO 1999) to date there is
limited information to demonstrate its impact on forest cover change and
nutrients dynamics in Nigeria. The few studies which have been conducted were
based on assessment on the impacts of shifting cultivation on biodiversity and
carbon in high forests (Mwampamba, 2009) and other researchers are based on
general overview of the contribution of shifting cultivation to deforestation
in Kitulangalo Forest Reserve (Luoga,2000; Nduwamungu et al.,nd) Either,
shifting cultivation has always been linked to decline in soil fertility.
However, there is limited information with regards to dynamics of essential
nutrients in areas practicing shifting cultivation. The information on
nutrients dynamics at different fallow ages and cultivation duration is even
scarcer (Diekmann, 2004). Also other factors which can contribute to shifting
cultivation, such lack of proper farming techniques, site and crop matching,
weak land tenure in acquiring land remain largely untested.
1.3 OBJECTIVE OF
The overall objective: To address the contribution of
shifting cultivation on forest cover change and nutrients dynamics in Nigeria
through comparison of forests with and without shifting cultivation and forests
under different fallow age and cultivation history in selected parts of Nigeria
1. To identify the socio- economic drivers of shifting
2. To asses nutrients status of fields under different
fallow age and cultivation history
3. To asses forest cover change due to shifting cultivation
4. To determine the role of institution for prevention and
control of shifting cultivation
5. To assess the perception of local people toward shifting
6. To assess the effects of crops under shifting cultivation
on nutrients dynamics
1. Why do farmers practice shifting cultivation?
2. What is the effect of shifting cultivation on forest
3.What is the role of formal and informal institutions on
control and prevention of shifting cultivation?
4. How does nutrients and vegetation recovery vary on farms
at different fallow periods?
5. How does cultivation period and fallow age correlated to
soil nutrient dynamics?
1.5 SIGNIFICANCE OF
This study is expected to bridge this information gap. The
findings will contribute towards understanding of the dynamics of forest cover
and soil nutrition in areas practicing shifting cultivation.
Given the importance of trees to the environment and rural
livelihoods, the need for empirical knowledge that will aid a systematic
understanding of the impact of land use intensification through shifting
agriculture, on tree populations, cannot be overemphasized.
The study was a step in that direction. The importance of
the study is that it will help to find out the abundance of uncultivated
forestland and arable farmlands of different ages.
This study will also help to ascertain the agriculture on
tree diversity; and to determine the extent of tree species compositional
variation between the uncultivated forestland and different chronosequences of
cultivated lands; and lastly, to ascertain the extent of change in individual
tree populations due to varying degrees of shifting cultivation.
This study will also find out how farmers relate their
farming practices to various environmental consequences. And how different
crops under shifting cultivation affect soil nutrient?
1.6 SCOPE OF THE
The study is set out to find out the effect of shifting
cultivation on agricultural land a case study of Ovia North East Local
Government of Edo State. Five communities were selected in Ovia North East
Local Government they include; Ekiadolor Village, Okokhuo Community, Ekoabetu
Community, Iyowa Community and
1.8 DEFINITION OF
Shifting cultivation: the system of farming in which fields
are prepared by cutting down the natural vegetations
Agriculture: This may be explained as the cultivation of
crops, processing, marketing and the rearing of animal for man’s satisfaction.