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Wageningen Universiteit (1994)

Mijikenda agriculture in Coast Province of Kenya : peasants in between tradition, ecology and policy

Waaijenberg, H.

Titre : Mijikenda agriculture in Coast Province of Kenya : peasants in between tradition, ecology and policy

Auteur : Waaijenberg, H.

Université de soutenance  : Wageningen Universiteit

Grade : PhD thesis 1994

Résumé partiel
The Mijikenda live in the hinterland of the southern Kenya coast. They are peasants with small farms growing maize, rice, cassava and cowpea, coconut palms and cashew or fruit trees for the household and the market. A few households own cattle, most keep some goats or sheep and nearly all have a flock of chickens. As the farms are small and the yields of the crops and livestock low, most households have one or more members with off-farm work in the coastal towns. The Mijikenda are generally considered as traditionalists who are reluctant to adapt their society and agriculture to the ways of tomorrow.

Between 1981 and 1985 a series of field studies was conducted to describe and analyse Mijikenda agriculture, to identify bottlenecks limiting its performance and, if possible, to explore ways for its future development. The studies combined a farming systems approach with awareness of the constraints imposed by ecological conditions and the role of historical processes in shaping today’s reality. The research methods included literature review, formal and informal interviews, qualitative and quantitative observations in farmers’ fields, and several small researcher-managed experiments in farmers’ fields. The work was concentrated in four villages in the area around Kaloleni, Kilifi District, Coast Province of Kenya.

After an introduction about the Mijikenda people and the research approaches, the results are presented in five papers. The first is a collection of short stories about one day in the life of a typical household on a typical farm just south of Kaloleni. The narratives introduce the principal actors and show the stages on which they perform the play called agriculture. It is argued that stories belong not only to fiction but can also be used as research and extension tools.

The second paper goes back into history and reveals remarkable patterns of change in the traditional society and agriculture of the Mijikenda people. Within a couple of centuries the actors, the stages and the play have been transformed almost beyond recognition. These changes are all the more striking against the background of apathy often attributed to Mijikenda farmers.

Mots clés : farms / farming systems / ethnography / anthropology / kenya / folk culture / customs / ethnology / agricultural extension

Présentation et version intégrale

Page publiée le 19 mars 2009, mise à jour le 1er juin 2022