New challenges are emerging in the world's upland rice farming areas, where already some of the world's poorest farmers try to wrest a living from fragile soils that are fast being degraded.
The uplands have traditionally suffered from drought and infertile soils, weeds and plant diseases. Soils there have been badly eroded and degraded as a result of the slash-and-burn agriculture that for many years followed logging. This, in turn, destroys the watershed, producing problems in the lands below.
Already the new upward pressures are resulting in a movement toward permanent agriculture and intensification of land use in upland areas. Those involved find themselves faced—in addition to the usual upland problems—with an urgent need to conserve the soil and the diversity of plant species, and to cope with increasingly frequent and severe weed and disease infestations.