Chena cultivation or shifting agriculture is the most primitive type of agriculture known to man from the dawn of civilization, practiced in Sri Lanka & some other Asian countries. It does not make use of the same piece of land (unlike where paddy is grown) and goes on rotation of crops. The ‘Chena’ cultivator cuts down, at regular intervals, the trees of a small jungle land and set fire to the woody growths as far as possible, to begin cultivation. This virgin land is most suitable for cultivation in view of its rich soil.
It involves the clearing of either primeval or second growth of jungle land every year for cultivation of dry-land products such as ‘tala’, ‘amu’, ‘kurakkan’, ‘meneri’, ‘badairingu’, ‘thana’, ‘mung’, ‘bajiri’ and varieties of vegetables, which have a ready market as subsidiary crops.
‘Chena’ cultivation is characterized by a lack of tillage, the soil is hardly disturbed, as no plough turns it.