IV-5. “Study on Sustainable Agriculture in Terraced Rice Cultivation and Rice Terrace Conservation in Asia” (H24-25 FY2012-2013)

  • Project Leader : Ando Kazuo (Kyoto University, Center for Southeast Asian Studies)
  • Collaborators : Nakamura Hitoshi (Freelance Researcher)
  • : Li Cheng-yun (Yunnan Agricultural University, National Center for Agrobiodiversity)
  • : Yezer (Royal University of Bhutan, Sherubtse College)
  • : Uchiada Haruo (National Agricultural and Food Research Organization, NARO Western Region Agricultural Researach Center)

Outline of Research

Rice terraces in Asia, including Southeast Asia, have their own sustainable agriculture according to ecological specificities found in the region. These nurture food production, specific landscapes, and cultures.

This study aims at field studies and literature survey on rice terraces located in Kyoto, Shiga, and Kochi Prefectures as well as the Tango-Tajima area of Japan, Hani in Yunnan China and Bhutan to elucidate the implications of resource-recycling, environmental friendliness, conservation of biodiversity, all of which lead to the sustainable development of rice terraces and local communities.


In rice terraces found in an Asiatic monsoon climate, modern agriculture could not be developed, thus various rice farming and cultivation practices were established to meet the local needs particularly specific ecological requirements. The Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO) recognized GIAHS was recently approved to include Sado island and Noto Penisula (June 2011). Asiatic rice terraces and the traditional cultivation methods have thus, been re-discovered in terms of their environmental and biodiversity sustainability. Nevertheless, some rice terraces face maintenance difficulties.

This study includes a field survey on the current conditions of Japanese rice terraces as well as those found in other Asiatic countries in terms of resource-recycling, environmental friendliness, conservation of biodiversity and community development. It aims to clarify and characterize local specificities of traditional cultivation practices through a comparative analysis of data. Furthermore, it aims at a realistic community development plan and implementation agenda to combine farming methods based on both modern and traditional systems and concepts.

Resource-recycling typed sustainable cropping systems can be extended to general rice cultivation and does not need to be restricted to rice terraces. Its potential value must merit further attention. The expected results should contribute to studies on other types of Asiatic rice terraces and traditional cultivation practices and can help GIAHS, conservation, terrace maintenance, rice production, and community development as a whole.

Rice Terrace in Bhutan. Rice become presently staple food instead of baley and corn. Most of rice fields in Bhutan are rice terraces. Bhutan is a mountainous country. A rice terrace is important and thus is protected by the law. It cannot be easily permitted to be used for other purposes or abandoning farming. The beautiful rice terraces, which are a proof of accumulation of human labors, are well seen to us. This photo was taken at the place between Linmetang and Mongar, Bhutan, by Ando Kazuo.

Rice terraces in Suo-Oshima-cho, Yamaguchi Prefecture, Japan. The migration from rural to urban has been accelerated in accordance with rapid economic development in Japan since 1960s. The problem of de-population and aging societies has deteriorated too. The
phenomena of abandoning farming and changing a rice terrace to a forest land has become common in the mountainous villages in Japan. This photo was taken in September 2009 by Ando Kazuo. The inner place is cultivated land. The middle place is abandoned farming land. The near side is fruit-tree land.