Swiddens, Rice Terraces, and Malay Connections : Resource Use and Socio-economic Strata in the Chin Hills, Myanmar (<Special Issue>Ecological Resource Use and Social Change in the Minority Regions of Myanmar)


Numerous swiddens and rice terraces are scattered here and there in the mountainous area of northwestern Myanmar (Burma) known as the Chin Hills. This article discusses the natural and social circumstances which sustain village livelihoods and economic strata in a village where swidden and rice terrace farmers live, based on a case study in Hakha Township, Chin State. Traditional swiddens, where villagers cultivate maize and foxtail millet as the staple food, have become scarce under population pressure. As a result, the fallow period has shortened and per capita arable area has lessened. Meanwhile, the preference for rice has grown so strong that villagers have been developing rice terraces since the 1950s. However, village rice production is still not enough to feed all villagers. Some influential households can supply their own needs but others cannot. While the latter have to earn money if they do not want to resort to eating maize or millet, all have to increase their cash income for housing, clothing, medicine, electricity, education, etc. As a result, households diversify their occupations to include trading, collecting forest products, road construction, work abroad, etc. Actually, no village livelihood can be sustained without non- and/or off-farm earnings, and it is these incomes that determine the socio-economic strata within the village. Even people in deep mountain areas cannot live on agricultural and silvical products alone. In this study, socio-economic strata or layers are very important. While these economic layers were categorized after the survey on the basis of factors such as consumption, income, and land tenure, I asked villagers to divide all households into four layers according to their own criteria before conducting the in-depth study. Then I collected compressive socio-economic data in the village under survey, interviewing the villagers myself in Myanmar (Burmese). In processing the data, I tested whether the differences between the villager-categorized layers were significant or not by analysis of variance. However, because of the way the categorization was done, we cannot utilize parametric methods, such as one-way layout ANOVA. Hence, I employed a nonparametric method, the Kruskal-Wallis test

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oaioai:repository.kulib.kyoto-u.ac.jp:2433/56802Last time updated on 6/13/2016

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