Slash-and-Burn Farming Method

Slash-and-Burn Farming

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In the Dai language, farmer is called "bohaimina", which means "the father of dry land and the mother of rice field", and this might have relations with the division of production in the primitive society. In the folk legend named "the origin of grains", the ancestors of the Dai folks found "the bird shit paddy", they took them back from wild and began to plant them in fields, and that’s the start of farming. Then, did farming begin from planting in dry land or from rich field? According to their folk tales, there was a "Grandmother Grain"(named Mina), and she taught people, particularly women how to plant rice. At that time, men appreciated and at the same time were jealous of the women’s skill in planting rice, so a clever man named "Bohai" learnt to plant in dry land; therefore, he took men to the mountain and taught them how to farm in dry land. From then on, people engaged in farming were called "bohai". This is also coincident to the development of human beings from maternal society to patrilineal society. As to why they put "bohai" before "mina", it might because that man who became the ruler later on conversed the history. As to how they plant the rice in the rich field and in dry land, no one knows. However, some historical documents of the inland have some records on "burned farming and planting in water field", or even records for "farming by elephants". In ancient times, there are many elephants in the rain forests, the Lancang River, also takes on the meaning of "the river with millions of elephants". The ancestors of the Dai folks domesticated elephants, and there were records about farming by elephants too. Afterwards, the ancestors domesticated water buffaloes, and farming developed further. The Dai folks never use plant foods in their fields, and they only plant one season each year. The rest of the time, they would let grass grow in the fields. 

As for the "slash-and-burn farming method, it is something happened after the invention of smelting, and this farming method lasted until up to the modern time. The farmers would cut down the trees and dry them up, then, they would set on fire to burn the grasses and the roots; after that, they would plant crops growing on dry land. "Slash-and-burn" farming method is a farming method to make use of the nutrition gathered in the rain forests, and it is also a method to get rid of grasses and plant diseases. Slash-and-burn farming method is no more than to open a window in the forests, after they plant for 2 or 3 years, the farmers would give up the land, and the forest would recover quickly soon. This method has no unfavorable impacts on the survival of species. However, by the modern time, the population of mankind grew more than doubled, the forests were reduced by half, and the circle in-between "slash-and-burn" and "forest relaxation" was reduced to a great extent. This farming method makes it difficult for the forests to recover, and soil erosion becomes more and more serious, thus, caused the ecological degeneration of the forests. So, it is correct for governments of all levels to establish rules for the prohibition of the "slash-and-burn" farming method.