In the gardens around our homes we cultivate papaya, mango, banana, jackfruit, pepper and vegetables such as bean sprouts and green gram. In the hills behind our village lies the jungle, which is unsuited for paddy cultivation. Here, kurakkan millet and other dry grains are grown in what are called chena lands.
A chena is generally about one acre in size. Slash-and-burn methods clear the land, after which cultivation takes place. We abandon these chenas for 10 to 15 years after cultivation, permitting the forest to regenerate.
We have great respect for the forest and its functions; we do not want to alter that. By design, abandoned chenas gradually become analogous to the natural forest.
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