Islands of Intensive Agriculture in Eastern Africa: Past and Present (Eastern African Studies)

Islands of Intensive Agriculture in Eastern Africa: Past and Present (Eastern African Studies)

By: Mats Widgren (editor), John E.G. Sutton (editor)Hardback

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This book reveals complex agricultural methods and dynamic farming strategies which evolved long before colonial intervention or recent development projects. These indigenous systems created spectacular landscapes, with terrace walls to conserve the soil and hill-furrow irrigation to supplement low or seasonal rainfall, thus allowing intensive exploitation of all usable land. Mulch or animal manure were applied to boost fertility on regularly planted fields. Labour, communal tasks and the allocation of land and water required social organisation and the use of sanctions. The studies examine 'islands' where intensive devices and integrated systems have been developed and maintained. Sometimes they are in relatively isolated and arid localities but are able to support surprising concentrations of population. These islands of intensive local cultivation are surrounded by a low-density 'sea' of livestock-herders or extensive cultivators. Islands in the Eastern Rift Valley and flanking highlands - Iraqw in Tanzania, Marakwet in Kenya and Konso in Ethiopia - are illustrated by geographers and anthropologists applying an historical perspective. The archaeological example is of Engaruka in a dry stretch of the Rift in northern Tanzania where a cluster of nucleated villages with skilfully engineered irrigation thrived between the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries.

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About Author

Mats Widgren is Professor in Geography at Stockholm University; John E.G. Sutton is the former Director of the British Institute in Eastern Africa


Towards a historical geography of intensive farming in eastern Africa by Mats Widgren - The expansion of Marakwet hill-furrow irrigation in the Kerio valley of Kenya by Wilhelm Ostberg - Agricultural intensification & social stratification: Konso in Ethiopia contrasted with Marakwet by Elizabeth Watson - The history of Iraqw intensive agriculture by Lowe B?rjeson - Institutionalized exchange as a driving force in intensive agriculture: an Iraqw case study by Vesa-Matti Loiske - Engaruka: the success & abandonment of an integrated irrigation system in an arid part of the Rift Valley, c 15th to 17th centuries by John E.G. Sutton - When islands expand: intensification & sustainability by William M. Adams.

Product Details

  • publication date: 18/02/2004
  • ISBN13: 9780852554272
  • Format: Hardback
  • Number Of Pages: 288
  • ID: 9780852554272
  • ISBN10: 0852554273

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