Achang - Economy



Subsistence and Commercial Activities. The Achang are agriculturalists, with wet-rice cultivation the principal agricultural activity. The traditional cropping system of wet rice has been formed in the course of adjusting to the local climatic conditions. When atmospheric temperature is proper for sprouting seeds and the monsoon brings enough rain to the fields, the season for sowing begins. When the rainy season is over, the rice ear will be mature enough to harvest. After harvest, the rice is sorted into two portions: one set aside for use by the household in the following year, and one for payment of hired labor or land rent in the past or, since 1956, mandatorily sold to the government at a price set by the state. Besides rice, the Achang also cultivate some cash crops, such as sugarcane and oil crops in Lianghe and Luxi and tobacco in the Fusa plain area.

Industrial Arts. The Achang blacksmiths in the regions of Fusa and Lasa are very famous, particularly for making various types of knives and swords. Some say that the forging technique used by the Achang came from the weapon smiths of Chinese troops stationed in the Fusa region in the fourteenth century. Since then, the manufacturing of ironware has been a prosperous activity. A workshop is usually owned by several households. Often a village's workshops specialize in producing one type of product—dagger, sickle, plowshare, chopper, horseshoe, or hoe. The manufacturing of ironware is seasonal, with the number of ironworkers often swelling to over half of the entire population of male laborers during the leisure season. During recent decades, some workshops based on cooperation and using modern equipment have grown into factories for the manufacture of ironware. Textile production, silversmithing, and carving and decoration for temples and other buildings are also well developed.

Trade. Purchasing pig iron and selling the end products constitutes the most important trade ventures in Fusa and Lasa. The pig iron comes from the Han traders, and the Achang sell the products to neighboring peoples and the Burmese. A few Achang people have become professional traders.

Land Tenure. A few centuries ago, all of the land in the Achang region belonged to Dai feudal lords and hereditary Achang chiefs. However, the ownership of most lands had already been transferred from the feudal owners to individual peasant families before the Agrarian Reform of 1956, although until 1956 everyone who owned land still had to pay tax to them, as a token recognition of the feudal lords' continuing ownership of all lands. As a result of the private ownership of land, tenancy and buying and selling of land between peasants became frequent. The government established the collective ownership of land in 1956 but transferred landownership to the People's Commune in 1969. In 1982, the authorities redivided the lands among the resident households.


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