Conventionally, shifting cultivation (also known as Swidden) has been interpreted as inefficient (economically), destructive (ecologically) and an inflexible static form (institutionally) of agriculture. It is essential not only that the system of production is non-destructive, efficient and adaptive to better changes but also is sustainable. The incidental point emerges out is that whether shifting cultivation is sustainable or not. Therefore, the present paper attempts to verify the criteria of measurement of sustainability in a relatively primitive form of agricultural system and develops some alternative/complimentary ways to look into the factors related to sustainability. Often sustainability of a project or production system is verified through usual cost benefit analysis (CBA). In our study we feel that the essence of understanding the sustainability of shifting cultivation system requires the understanding of factors, which are local in nature that are severely limited by usual CBA. Therefore, we have developed a critique of CBA and alternatively evolved with the land, employment and consumption based analyses in order to evaluate the sustainability of this form of agriculture in the context of Orissa based on primary study.
Dr. Amalendu Jyotishi, Transcending sustainability beyond CBA: conceptual insights from empirical study on shifting cultivation in Orissa, vol. 163. Ahmedabad: Gujarat Institute of Development Research, 2005, p. 22.