Phunoi mountain agriculture in northern Laos: the end of subsistence farming
Long-time shifting cultivators, the Phunoi farmers practice slash and burn agriculture on steep mountain slopes in Northern Laos to ensure food selfsufficiency. The author conducted a diagnosis of the Phunoi agrarian system and analyzed its changes in relation with its history, the evolution of the Lao society and its progressive integration into a market economy. The Lao authorities want to stop shifting cultivation to protect the forestry environment in upper catchment areas, but the proposed alternatives do not always provide reasonable standards of living for the targetted populations. A rural development project implemented by the cCL (Comite de cooperation avec le Laos) and funded by the CFD (Caisse francaise de developpement) responds to the Lao policy to stabilize shifting cultivation while promoting a harmonious economic and social development in the region. The project aims at improving access to Phunoi villages, developing livestock and diversifying crop production.