Dry-Season Flood-Recession Rice in the Mekong Delta: Two Thousand Years of Sustainable Agriculture?

Date
1999
Authors
Fox, Jeff
Ledgerwood, Judy
Journal Title
Journal ISSN
Volume Title
Publisher
University of Hawai'i Press (Honolulu)
Abstract
The Mekong Delta is famous as the hearth of one of the earliest civilizations in mainland Southeast Asia. Called "Funan" by visiting Chinese dignitaries, the lower Mekong Delta housed at least two urban centers by the third century A.D.: OC Eo in Viet Nam and Angkor Borei in Cambodia. Land-use practices found in and around Angkor Borei today are described and the relative antiquity of these practices is speculated upon. Dry-season flood-recession rice, the major land use in the area, is an ancient land-use system that, taking advantage of the fertile silt deposited by the annual floods, is both extremely productive and sustainable. Although we have no physical evidence of flood-recession rice in third-century Angkor Borei, there is no technical reason (soil fertility, water, technology, or labor) why it could not have formed the agricultural basis of this civilization. In fact, dry-season flood-recession rice not only may have formed the agricultural basis of Angkor Borei in the early historic period but also may have dictated the location of the city. Furthermore, it is hypothesized that the system of dry-season flood-recession agriculture was adopted elsewhere in the delta either in advance of or in congruence with other lower Mekong polities (e.g., Chenla and Angkor). If this hypothesis proves true, then dryseason flood-recession rice has played a much larger role in the early history and culture of the lower Mekong Delta than has been appreciated by students of the region. KEYWORDS: Southeast Asia, Cambodia, Mekong Delta, rice agriculture, floodrecession farming, Geographic Information Systems.
Description
Keywords
Southeast Asia, Cambodia, Mekong Delta, rice agriculture, floodrecession farming, Geographic Information Systems
Citation
Fox, J., and J. Ledgerwood. 1999. Dry-Season Flood-Recession Rice in the Mekong Delta: Two Thousand Years of Sustainable Agriculture? Asian Perspectives 38 (1): 37-50.
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