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27-31 August 2019
Poznań, Poland
Europe/Warsaw timezone
programme last update: 23 August 2019
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Contribution Paper

Poznań, Poland - Morasko Kampus, room: 2.104

Agro-biodiversity under Shifting Cultivation System in the Context of Climate Change


  • Dr. Sushree Sangita MOHANTY

Primary authors


Shifting cultivation is one of the very first forms of agriculture practiced by indigenous communities and its survival into the modern world suggests that it is a flexible and highly adaptive means of production. It is an agricultural system in which plots of land are cultivated temporarily, then abandoned and allowed to revert to their natural vegetation while the cultivator moves on to another plot. The period of cultivation is usually terminated when the soil shows signs of exhaustion or, more commonly, when the field is overrun by weeds. The length of time that a field is cultivated is usually shorter than the period over which the land is allowed to regenerate by lying fallow. Clearing and burning of standing forests, as perceived by tribal practitioners, is ecologically stable cycles of cropping and fallowing. It is a form of land use which enhances biodiversity. Severe declines in plant diversity as well as agro-biodiversity have been observed in most areas when shifting cultivation is replaced by permanent land use systems. Shifting cultivators have preserved agro-biodiversity through local rules, practices and the informal networks for exchange of seeds and traditional knowledge, thus ensuring food security of their communities. Along with the replacement of shifting cultivation comes the collapse of these networks – a drastic change in social climate, which results in a substantial loss of crop genetic resources. The availability of high genetic diversity in agricultural crops has however been identified as a key element in adaptation strategies to climate change.