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Between crisis and opportunity. Livelihoods, diversification and inequality among the Meru of Tanzania

Larsson, Rolf LU (2001) In Lund Dissertations in Sociology 41.
Abstract (Swedish)
Popular Abstract in Swedish

Den snabba folkökningen I Afrika söder om Sahara förändrar kontinuerligt betingelserna för bondebefolkningens försörjning. I ett av de bördigaste och samtidigt mest tättbefolkade områdena I Östafrika, Mount Meru I norra Tanzania, så har befolkningen nära tiodubblats under loppet av de senaste hundra åren. För bönderna i området är markbristen det allt överskuggande problemet. Till denna begränsning kommer den förändring som den ekonomiska liberaliseringen och strukturanpassningen innebär. På kort tid så har Tanzania gått från statskontroll till fri marknad. Denna förändring har inneburit nya problem men också möjligheter för Tanzanias småjordbrukare.



Historiskt sett så har... (More)
Popular Abstract in Swedish

Den snabba folkökningen I Afrika söder om Sahara förändrar kontinuerligt betingelserna för bondebefolkningens försörjning. I ett av de bördigaste och samtidigt mest tättbefolkade områdena I Östafrika, Mount Meru I norra Tanzania, så har befolkningen nära tiodubblats under loppet av de senaste hundra åren. För bönderna i området är markbristen det allt överskuggande problemet. Till denna begränsning kommer den förändring som den ekonomiska liberaliseringen och strukturanpassningen innebär. På kort tid så har Tanzania gått från statskontroll till fri marknad. Denna förändring har inneburit nya problem men också möjligheter för Tanzanias småjordbrukare.



Historiskt sett så har hushållen i Meru hanterat markbristen relativt bra. Det nästan universella odlandet av kaffe från 1950-talet och framåt bidrog starkt till att levnadsstandarden och inkomsten per capita kunde växa trots en mycket snabb ökning av befolkningsstorleken. Även diversifieringen av inkomstkällorna (sidoinkomster utanför jordbruket) spelade roll i denna utveckling. Under 1980-talet innebar den nationella ekonomiska nedgången emellertid ett brott för denna positiva trend. Kaffeinkomsterna och möjligheterna till inkomster utanför jordbruket minskade drastiskt.



Med 90-talets liberalisering av marknaderna så har jordbrukets inriktning förändrats. Högvärdiga livsmedel (fr a grönsaker och mjölk) produceras för lokala marknader (Arusha) medan kaffet har fallit tillbaka. Den mest påfallande förändringen är emellertid uppsvinget för arbetstillfällen och inkomster utanför jordbruket, en förändring som lokalt har förstärkts genom närheten till Arusha, den regionala huvudstaden. Fångad mellan, å ena sidan, de begränsningar som markbristen och den makroekonomiska omställningen innebär och, å den andra, de förväntningar och möjligheter som liberaliseringen erbjuder, så tycks ett många medlemmar i småbondehushållen vända ryggen mot jordbruket och söka sig inkomster utanför den egna gården.



Efterfrågan på inkomster utanför jordbruket är dock inget lokalt fenomen utan är en trend över hela den afrikanska kontinenten. Den innebär att jordbrukssektorn minskar i andel av BNP och i antalet sysselsatta, en process som har av några observatörer kallats 'av-agrarianisering'. Dess långsiktiga konsekvenser på livsmedelsproduktionen, inkomstfördelningen, fattigdomsbekämpningen och möjligheten för småjordbruken att överleva är dock fortfarande osäkra.



Studien drar slutsatsen att i fallet Meru, så är inte utomgårdsarbete i första hand ett steg bort från jordbruket, utan ett sätt för bönderna att kunna överleva på sina små jordlotter. Detta speglar den ekonomiska osäkerhet som råder i Afrika, bl a som följd av det senaste decenniets reformpolitik. Men trots att reformerna tycks ha medfört växande inkomstklyftor mellan rika och fattiga bönder, så domineras jordbrukssektorn helt igenom av småbönder som visar stor flexibilitet i anpassningen till omvärldens skiftande ekonomiska och politiska villkor. Lokalt så motverkas en långtgående ekonomisk polarisering mellan rik och fattig av en relativt stor social mobilitet, möjligheten till utomgårdsinkomster, och av sociala institutioner som stöder alla familjers rätt till mark för sin försörjning.



Det lokala jordbruket fortsätter emellertid att vara handikappat av sin låga produktivitet, ett faktum som kastar tvivel över den nuvarande nyliberala ordningen som det mest effektiva medlet att höja jordbruksproduktionen och inkomstnivåerna på Afrikas landsbygd. (Less)
Abstract
Sustained high population growth rates are radically altering the livelihood conditions for small farmers in sub-Saharan Africa. In one of the most fertile and densely settled areas of East Africa, Mount Meru in Northern Tanzania, the size of the population has increased nearly tenfold within the last century. As a consequence, the most serious problem facing farm families is shortage of land. Coupled with this constraint is a complete turn in the national policy towards the agricultural sector in the 1990s. Within short time, Tanzania has moved from state controlled to liberalized markets, a change that has brought new challenges as well as opportunities for the country's numerous smallholders.



Historically, Meru... (More)
Sustained high population growth rates are radically altering the livelihood conditions for small farmers in sub-Saharan Africa. In one of the most fertile and densely settled areas of East Africa, Mount Meru in Northern Tanzania, the size of the population has increased nearly tenfold within the last century. As a consequence, the most serious problem facing farm families is shortage of land. Coupled with this constraint is a complete turn in the national policy towards the agricultural sector in the 1990s. Within short time, Tanzania has moved from state controlled to liberalized markets, a change that has brought new challenges as well as opportunities for the country's numerous smallholders.



Historically, Meru households have managed the situation of land shortage rather well. The near universal adoption of coffee cultivation in the 1950s strongly contributed to improvements in food security and living standards despite very high population growth rates. So did income diversification, i.e. the partial reliance on incomes from outside farming. In the 1980s, however, the national economic recession prompted a social and livelihood crisis as markets contracted, coffee prices dropped and small business and employment opportunities dwindled.



More recently, economic liberalization has produced a change into high value crops for the domestic markets and, above all, a conspicuous upsurge of opportunities for earning incomes from off-farm work, a trend that is reinforced by the proximity of Mount Meru to Arusha town, the regional capital. Caught between the compelling forces of economic adjustment and land shortage on the one hand, and the rising aspirations and opportunities brought by economic liberalisation on the other, Meru household members have turned their back on farming in favour of various kinds of off-farm employment.



The quest for off-farm incomes by rural households is a phenomenon that sweeps across Africa and one that implies the shrinking of the agricultural sector versus other sectors of the economy, i.e. 'de-agrarianisation'. The consequences of 'de-agrarianisation' on food production, income distribution, poverty reduction, and the viability of small family farms, are uncertain, however.



The study concludes that, in the Meru case, off-farm employment foremost serves as a means for preserving the small family farm rather than implying a full-scale exodus from agriculture. The study suggests that in spite of a rising gap in incomes between rich and poor farmers, local agriculture continues to be dominated by small family farms, which show great flexibility in adapting to shifting economic and political conditions. Economic polarisation is contained by a high rate of social mobility, income diversification strategies, and by social institutions supporting the right to land for all. Local agriculture continues to be constrained by low productivity, however, a fact that casts doubts on the current neo-liberal policies as the most efficient means of raising agricultural output and incomes in Africa's rural areas. (Less)
Please use this url to cite or link to this publication:
author
supervisor
opponent
  • Senior Research Fellow Bryceson, Deborah, Afrika Studie-centrum, Leiden University, the Netherlands
organization
publishing date
type
Thesis
publication status
published
subject
keywords
Sociology of labour, Meru, Sociologi, Tanzania, Arusha, peasants, sociology of enterprise, family farmers, smallholders, coffee production, income diversification, de-agrarianisation, agricultural intensification, inequality, social differentiation, economic liberalization., Sociology, Arbetslivssociologi, företagssociologi, Agricultural economics, Lantbruksekonomi
in
Lund Dissertations in Sociology
volume
41
pages
528 pages
publisher
Sociologiska institutionen, Lunds universitet
defense location
Samarkand, AF-huset, Lund
defense date
2001-10-15 10:15
external identifiers
  • other:ISRN: LUSADG/SASO-01/1143/SE
ISSN
1102-4712
ISBN
91-7267-101-7
language
English
LU publication?
yes
id
cdeaa899-3914-476c-b66a-31a95cf3b6a6 (old id 19960)
date added to LUP
2007-05-25 14:53:37
date last changed
2018-05-29 11:37:26
@phdthesis{cdeaa899-3914-476c-b66a-31a95cf3b6a6,
  abstract     = {Sustained high population growth rates are radically altering the livelihood conditions for small farmers in sub-Saharan Africa. In one of the most fertile and densely settled areas of East Africa, Mount Meru in Northern Tanzania, the size of the population has increased nearly tenfold within the last century. As a consequence, the most serious problem facing farm families is shortage of land. Coupled with this constraint is a complete turn in the national policy towards the agricultural sector in the 1990s. Within short time, Tanzania has moved from state controlled to liberalized markets, a change that has brought new challenges as well as opportunities for the country's numerous smallholders.<br/><br>
<br/><br>
Historically, Meru households have managed the situation of land shortage rather well. The near universal adoption of coffee cultivation in the 1950s strongly contributed to improvements in food security and living standards despite very high population growth rates. So did income diversification, i.e. the partial reliance on incomes from outside farming. In the 1980s, however, the national economic recession prompted a social and livelihood crisis as markets contracted, coffee prices dropped and small business and employment opportunities dwindled.<br/><br>
<br/><br>
More recently, economic liberalization has produced a change into high value crops for the domestic markets and, above all, a conspicuous upsurge of opportunities for earning incomes from off-farm work, a trend that is reinforced by the proximity of Mount Meru to Arusha town, the regional capital. Caught between the compelling forces of economic adjustment and land shortage on the one hand, and the rising aspirations and opportunities brought by economic liberalisation on the other, Meru household members have turned their back on farming in favour of various kinds of off-farm employment.<br/><br>
<br/><br>
The quest for off-farm incomes by rural households is a phenomenon that sweeps across Africa and one that implies the shrinking of the agricultural sector versus other sectors of the economy, i.e. 'de-agrarianisation'. The consequences of 'de-agrarianisation' on food production, income distribution, poverty reduction, and the viability of small family farms, are uncertain, however.<br/><br>
<br/><br>
The study concludes that, in the Meru case, off-farm employment foremost serves as a means for preserving the small family farm rather than implying a full-scale exodus from agriculture. The study suggests that in spite of a rising gap in incomes between rich and poor farmers, local agriculture continues to be dominated by small family farms, which show great flexibility in adapting to shifting economic and political conditions. Economic polarisation is contained by a high rate of social mobility, income diversification strategies, and by social institutions supporting the right to land for all. Local agriculture continues to be constrained by low productivity, however, a fact that casts doubts on the current neo-liberal policies as the most efficient means of raising agricultural output and incomes in Africa's rural areas.},
  author       = {Larsson, Rolf},
  isbn         = {91-7267-101-7},
  issn         = {1102-4712},
  keyword      = {Sociology of labour,Meru,Sociologi,Tanzania,Arusha,peasants,sociology of enterprise,family farmers,smallholders,coffee production,income diversification,de-agrarianisation,agricultural intensification,inequality,social differentiation,economic liberalization.,Sociology,Arbetslivssociologi,företagssociologi,Agricultural economics,Lantbruksekonomi},
  language     = {eng},
  pages        = {528},
  publisher    = {Sociologiska institutionen, Lunds universitet},
  school       = {Lund University},
  series       = {Lund Dissertations in Sociology},
  title        = {Between crisis and opportunity. Livelihoods, diversification and inequality among the Meru of Tanzania},
  volume       = {41},
  year         = {2001},
}