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Making the Most of It? Understanding the social and productive dynamics of small farmers in semi-arid Iringa, Tanzania

Gregersen, Peter LU (2003) In Lund Dissertations in Sociology 54.
Abstract (Swedish)
Popular Abstract in Swedish

Att klara sig trots allt: Den sociala och produktiva dynamiken hos småbönderna i de halvtorra områdena i Iringa i norra Tanzania.



Det är inte lätt att överleva som småbonde i de halvtorra områdena i Iringa och på liknande platser i Afrika. Man kontrollerar knappast sin egen livssituation. Regnen är opålitliga, priser, marknadsföring och politiska ingrepp är oförutsägbara. Trots detta finns det stora skillnader mellan olika bönder. Några har flera medel till förfogande än andra, mera jord, arbetskraft, pengar, sociala nätverk, och mer personlig förmåga och vetande - allt detta sammanfattas i avhandlingen under begreppet "uwezo". Bönder som har mer uwezo klarar sig bättre,... (More)
Popular Abstract in Swedish

Att klara sig trots allt: Den sociala och produktiva dynamiken hos småbönderna i de halvtorra områdena i Iringa i norra Tanzania.



Det är inte lätt att överleva som småbonde i de halvtorra områdena i Iringa och på liknande platser i Afrika. Man kontrollerar knappast sin egen livssituation. Regnen är opålitliga, priser, marknadsföring och politiska ingrepp är oförutsägbara. Trots detta finns det stora skillnader mellan olika bönder. Några har flera medel till förfogande än andra, mera jord, arbetskraft, pengar, sociala nätverk, och mer personlig förmåga och vetande - allt detta sammanfattas i avhandlingen under begreppet "uwezo". Bönder som har mer uwezo klarar sig bättre, eftersom de bättre kan utnyttja de möjligheter som ges. De har flera inkomstkällor och en mer varierad produktion, och på det viset får de bättre inkomster och blir mindre sårbara. Konsekvensen blir att ojämlikheten ökar, i enlighet med "Matteus-principen": de som redan har mycket får mera, medan de som har litet ofta mister ännu mer. Ojämlikheten betyder också att även om jordens bördighet generellt försämras, så är några bönder bättre i stånd att upprätthålla sin produktion och utnyttja marken hållbart, medan utbytet försämras mest hos dem med liten uwezo. Maktlöshet är på så sätt en orsak till jorderosion, fast de som har mer makt kan också göra mer skada. De maktlösa kanske trampar hårdast, men de har de minsta fotavtrycken. Befolkningstrycket samverkar med andra omständigheter, och med de olika medel bönderna har till sitt förfogande. Befolkningsökningen som sådan är därför inte problemet, men beroende på dessa andra faktorer kan befolkningstrycket vara både ett problem, och en stimulans till hållbar utveckling och till en mera intensifierad produktion. (Less)
Abstract
While much of semi-arid Africa is still sparsely populated with unused land, there are everywhere pockets of high and increasing population density in attractive locations. Small-scale farmers can respond to beginning land-scarcity in a number of ways. Through migration, through diversification of livelihoods, or through changes in their farming system. Which solution is chosen, depends not only on the land-situation, but on a totality of circumstances, with other important factors being marketing and external support. It is difficult to single out population growth as an independent cause. Nevertheless, in much public debate, population is held to be the root cause of food-shortages and environmental degradation. Yet, it may as well be... (More)
While much of semi-arid Africa is still sparsely populated with unused land, there are everywhere pockets of high and increasing population density in attractive locations. Small-scale farmers can respond to beginning land-scarcity in a number of ways. Through migration, through diversification of livelihoods, or through changes in their farming system. Which solution is chosen, depends not only on the land-situation, but on a totality of circumstances, with other important factors being marketing and external support. It is difficult to single out population growth as an independent cause. Nevertheless, in much public debate, population is held to be the root cause of food-shortages and environmental degradation. Yet, it may as well be argued that a certain population density is a contributing cause of development and agricultural change. The thesis discusses three themes in relation to small farmers: dynamics of livelihood and production, social differentiation and sustainability of production. At household level, the important factor in explaining what households do, is "uwezo", i.e. ability or power, defined as having capital in all forms. Uwezo is a wider and more dynamic concept than wealth or poverty. Village level differences seem less important. Nevertheless, natural conditions, market access, external stimuli and population pressure all influence what farmers can do and choose to do. These factors are most conducive in "Centre villages" where synergies can be obtained. Circumstances at national level, political and market conditions, are probably of greater significance, but in this thesis they are mostly treated as a common background to the effect of village and household level variables. However, the importance of economic and political circumstances for agrarian development and resource use are shown in a chapter on historical changes. The thesis further endeavours to show how the "Matthew principle" of differentiation works at ground level: those that have, gain, while those that have not, lose. It also discusses diversification of livelihood and de-peasantisation, and finds that this is not a pronounced tendency, but that it is again the most able who seize opportunities and so add to their resilience to risks and to their capacity, while the powerless tend to rely still more on wage-work. This leads to differentiation, but only of the extremes. The large middle group remains constant. Over generations, accumulation seem rarely to be in any one "household-enterprise", but perhaps within a family or kin-group, the members of which then can draw on this "family-capital". In terms of sustainability, it is shown that yields decline on average, but most in the smallest and least able households. It is concluded that uwezo, in its interrelation with circumstances, primarily market and land, is what determines household dynamics and land use, within the environment of natural, socio-economic and cultural circumstances. On population, the conclusion is that population pressure is not a decisive factor for land-use, and that the indirect effect of population is of more significance, i.e. through concentrations with markets for farm-produce, infrastructure and extension. Land and labour are not decisive factors on their own either. What matters is an empowering combination of capitals. At village level a conducive combination of centre village features. Farmers' behaviour is generally opportunistic, they try to make the most of circumstances and uwezo. (Less)
Please use this url to cite or link to this publication:
author
supervisor
opponent
  • Professor Mortimore, Michael, Cutters Cottage, Glovers Close, Milborne Port DT9 5ER, UK
organization
publishing date
type
Thesis
publication status
published
subject
keywords
Social changes, Malthus, Boserup, Tanzania, semi-arid Africa, Iringa, conservation, sustainability, soil fertility, degradation, population, Matthew principle, social differentiation, farmerisation, de-peasantisation, livelihood diversification, rural change, agrarian change, agricultural change, small farmers, dynamics, theory of social work, Sociala förändringar, teorier om socialt arbete
in
Lund Dissertations in Sociology
volume
54
pages
250 pages
publisher
Department of Sociology, Lund University
defense location
Carolinasalen, Lund University
defense date
2003-05-21 10:15
external identifiers
  • other:ISRN: LUSADG/SASO-03/1154/SE
ISSN
1102-4712
ISBN
91-7267-147-5
language
English
LU publication?
yes
id
01aec8cf-f0c7-4877-b5a0-fb7785e0fd1d (old id 21081)
date added to LUP
2007-05-25 11:47:44
date last changed
2018-05-29 11:52:29
@phdthesis{01aec8cf-f0c7-4877-b5a0-fb7785e0fd1d,
  abstract     = {While much of semi-arid Africa is still sparsely populated with unused land, there are everywhere pockets of high and increasing population density in attractive locations. Small-scale farmers can respond to beginning land-scarcity in a number of ways. Through migration, through diversification of livelihoods, or through changes in their farming system. Which solution is chosen, depends not only on the land-situation, but on a totality of circumstances, with other important factors being marketing and external support. It is difficult to single out population growth as an independent cause. Nevertheless, in much public debate, population is held to be the root cause of food-shortages and environmental degradation. Yet, it may as well be argued that a certain population density is a contributing cause of development and agricultural change. The thesis discusses three themes in relation to small farmers: dynamics of livelihood and production, social differentiation and sustainability of production. At household level, the important factor in explaining what households do, is "uwezo", i.e. ability or power, defined as having capital in all forms. Uwezo is a wider and more dynamic concept than wealth or poverty. Village level differences seem less important. Nevertheless, natural conditions, market access, external stimuli and population pressure all influence what farmers can do and choose to do. These factors are most conducive in "Centre villages" where synergies can be obtained. Circumstances at national level, political and market conditions, are probably of greater significance, but in this thesis they are mostly treated as a common background to the effect of village and household level variables. However, the importance of economic and political circumstances for agrarian development and resource use are shown in a chapter on historical changes. The thesis further endeavours to show how the "Matthew principle" of differentiation works at ground level: those that have, gain, while those that have not, lose. It also discusses diversification of livelihood and de-peasantisation, and finds that this is not a pronounced tendency, but that it is again the most able who seize opportunities and so add to their resilience to risks and to their capacity, while the powerless tend to rely still more on wage-work. This leads to differentiation, but only of the extremes. The large middle group remains constant. Over generations, accumulation seem rarely to be in any one "household-enterprise", but perhaps within a family or kin-group, the members of which then can draw on this "family-capital". In terms of sustainability, it is shown that yields decline on average, but most in the smallest and least able households. It is concluded that uwezo, in its interrelation with circumstances, primarily market and land, is what determines household dynamics and land use, within the environment of natural, socio-economic and cultural circumstances. On population, the conclusion is that population pressure is not a decisive factor for land-use, and that the indirect effect of population is of more significance, i.e. through concentrations with markets for farm-produce, infrastructure and extension. Land and labour are not decisive factors on their own either. What matters is an empowering combination of capitals. At village level a conducive combination of centre village features. Farmers' behaviour is generally opportunistic, they try to make the most of circumstances and uwezo.},
  author       = {Gregersen, Peter},
  isbn         = {91-7267-147-5},
  issn         = {1102-4712},
  keyword      = {Social changes,Malthus,Boserup,Tanzania,semi-arid Africa,Iringa,conservation,sustainability,soil fertility,degradation,population,Matthew principle,social differentiation,farmerisation,de-peasantisation,livelihood diversification,rural change,agrarian change,agricultural change,small farmers,dynamics,theory of social work,Sociala förändringar,teorier om socialt arbete},
  language     = {eng},
  pages        = {250},
  publisher    = {Department of Sociology, Lund University},
  school       = {Lund University},
  series       = {Lund Dissertations in Sociology},
  title        = {Making the Most of It? Understanding the social and productive dynamics of small farmers in semi-arid Iringa, Tanzania},
  volume       = {54},
  year         = {2003},
}