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March 23, 2011
School of Business, Bangalore
Shifting cultivation was one of the first forms of agriculture practiced by humans.
An agricultural practice used in the forested and hilly tracts of the tropics where the cropped area is rotated periodically, shifting agriculture allows soil regeneration under natural conditions.
Shifting cultivators have been blamed for the destruction of much of the world’s tropical forests, land degradation, atmospheric pollution and global climatic change.
This perception can be traced back to colonial times, when indigenous shifting agricultural practices in Asia and South America were characterized by colonizers as primitive.
This stereotype still persists in the contemporary world, revealing competition between different interest groups like migrant settlers, international investors and land-occupying farmers.
In his dissertation, Ecological, Economic and Institutional Aspects of Shifting Agriculture: A Study in Orissa, Amalendu Jyotishi, Assistant Professor at the Amrita School of Business, Bengaluru, analyzed the legitimacy of shifting cultivation.
For this research he received the prestigious V. K. R. V. Rao Memorial Prize for the best doctoral dissertation in the last five years.
In order to examine the sustainability of shifting agriculture, five villages in Orissa were selected with different typology including agro-climate, physiographical features, socio-economic features, shifting cycle, communities and other associated forms of land use.
“Findings suggest that shifting cultivation is not a destructive form of agriculture,” Dr. Jyotishi concluded. “It measures high in terms of efficiency when compared to other forms of agriculture and is definitely not a stagnated form of agricultural practice.”
“In the thesis, an attempt has been made to examine deforestation, considering different forms of land use over a long period of time to identify if shifting cultivation plays any major role in deforestation.”
“The biodiversity aspect was studied in terms of land use pattern at the village level.”
“Soil maintenance cost is used as a proxy for soil erosion and is measured in terms of opportunity cost for shifting cultivation and actual costs for other forms of land use.”
“We examined the efficiency in terms of technical efficiency using the stochastic production function approach at the household level.”
“In order to analyze the institutional aspects of shifting agriculture at village level we examined customary rules and norms, property right structures, integration with the market and forms of integration and technological changes i.e. kind of tools vis-à-vis make of tools.”
Amalendu Jyotishi completed his Ph.D in Economics at the prestigious Institute for Social and Economic Change, Bengaluru, under the supervision of Dr. R. S. Deshpande.
Dr. Jyotishi has worked on research projects supported by organizations such as Swedish International Development Agency, World Bank, International Water Management Institute, Oxfam (GB) Trust and Aga Khan Rural Support Program in India.
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