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Abstracts on Sustainable Agriculture (GTZ, 1992, 423 p.)
Abstracts On Traditional Land-Use Systems
1030 92 - 1/69
Traditional land-use systems
Review, Africa, Sub-Sahara, sustainable agriculture, soil productivity, indigenous measures, research results, methodologies, GTZ
HAILU, Z. and A. RUNGE-METZGER
1. Sustainability of land use systems: the potential of indigenous measures for the maintenance of soil productivity in sub-sahara african agriculture.
Publ. of the Inst. of Agricultural Economics, Univ. of Gï¿½ttingen, F.R.G., 1991, 111 p.
The primary aim of this paper is to develop a multidisciplinary research design to examine the sustainability of prevailing land use systems in selected agroecological zones in Africa. Therefore special attention is paid to the understanding and assessment of the systems' dynamics and the potentials embodied in indigenous measures by which farmers try to adjust to changing situations.
The question of sustainable agricultural development has increasingly drawn the attention of many international development research institutions and scholars particularly concerned with the challenge imposed on prevailing production systems in the developing world. The main objective is twofold: the incorporation of sustainability as an objective in the traditional set of goals of agricultural development research; and to develop and use sustainability as a measurement criterion to design and evaluate alternative systems by investigating and analyzing the reasons why existing systems are no more capable of perpetuating agricultural growth.
Conventional research approaches, both in their general objective and choice of performance criteria, very seldom put emphasis on the long-term performance of the systems they investigated.
Most studies describe the process of physical, chemical or economic degradation. Consequently, measures to combat the process of degradation were mainly technical solutions which very often failed completely. This is primarily due to the failure to include sociological and political influential factors which directly or indirectly determine the decision making process of rural farm households. Because of this misconception decisive variables have been neglected in the analysis of production functions. Socio-economic variables like
- tenure arrangements (common property problem),
- externalities (free rider problem),
- national and international price policies (wrong incentives),
- institutional and organizational arrangements and
- intergenerational equity (determination of the correct discounting rate) as well as
- personal awareness and subjective judgements also have an impact on the choice of technologies and the productivity of a land use system. Therefore, a research program designed to assess the problem of land degradation should not limit itself to the investigation of the physical changes as such, but must go further and identify the root causes that lead to these physical changes.
Agricultural production systems should be viewed as complex dynamic agroecosystems that are determined by the interaction of a set of geophysical, biological, socio-economic and cultural factors.
A sustainable agroecosystem is one that
- maintains or enhances environmental quality,
- satisfies future demands of society for food and fibres, and
- assures the economic and social well-being of producers.
An assessment of sustainability should simultaneously consider all important dimensions of an agroecosystem - namely the environmental, economic and social aspects with the view of exploring the factors that make a system unsustainable in the long run. This simultaneous consideration should be based on a thorough understanding of the inter dependencies and pattern of interaction between the different aspects in specific areas and development stages. Most of all, the interrelationships between the natural environment and the agricultural production process need to be well understood.
An important aspect of the sustainability concept is the question of finding an appropriate analytical tool to measure a system's sustainability over time. According to the comprehensive definition of sustainability a sound methodology has to consider the environmental, economic and social aspects of sustainability.
1031 92 - 1/70
Traditional land-use systems
Review, Africa, Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda, pastoral areas, dryland, indigenous knowledge, agroforestry, ICRAF
2. Building on local knowledge - the challenge of agroforestry for pastoral areas.
Agroforestry Today, Oct.-Dec. 1991, pp. 4-7
For generations, the lives of pastoralists in dryland Africa were shaped by one thing: an unforgiving climate. With the threat of drought always as near as the next season, pastoral communities built up knowledge about the vegetation in their harsh environment and evolved complex strategies that gave them resilience to the consequences of unreliable rainfall.
An expanding population, penetration of the cash economy, loss of dry-season grazing land to cropping, and a national emphasis on crops and settlements have brought a different set of challenges. Despite the long-term sustainability of pastoral land-management systems, they are now in danger of breaking down.
Attempts to help pastoralists adapt to their new circumstances, through agriculture or agroforestry, were often unsuccessful. In many cases, this lack of success can be linked to the fact that scientists and planners failed to discuss problems and potential solutions with the recipients of research and development.
The pastoralists' knowledge of their environment was usually ignored or, at best, simply not understood.
A brief description of three pastoral communities: the Pokot and Turkana of Kenya and the Sukuma of Tanzania gives some answers on how they utilize plants and manage their land.
Concluding, the capacity of the people and the land to recover from drought is linked to a mobile population, availability of large and diverse grazing lands, access to dry-season fodder including trees, low to moderate stocking rates per unit of land, moderate to high stocking rates per person, use of wild fruits and other fonds from trees, and limited production of dryland crops such as sorghum.
A second lesson from these pastoral societies concerns the vital link between resilience and risk. For pastoralists, decreased resilience can dramatically reduce the chances of surviving a period of drought. In this context, changes in land use, such as the cultivation of areas traditionally used for dry-season grazing, may significantly reduce resilience and increase risk. By retaining trees in crop and grazing land, agroforestry could help to migitate this threat.
One other lesson is an appreciation of the importance of traditional knowledge coupled with a strong community structure. The knowledge provides a thorough understanding of the environment and the production system.
Concluding researchers and planners must first identify valuable aspects of the traditional natural-resource management system. They must then work with local people to help them adapt their practices to changing socio-economic and environmental conditions.
Research and develop priorities will naturally vary from region to region, but given the vastness of many dryland areas, it makes good sense to develop a system-wide framework that emphasizes conservation and sustainable utilization of natural resources.
Within such a framework, specific strategies could incorporate:
- The conservation and management of existing trees, shrubs and grasses, including natural regeneration
- The inclusion of a water-resource management policy to coordinate tree planting, natural regeneration, crop production and other activities that require water
- The use of existing natural-resource management strategies as a basis for further development
- A deliberate policy to increase awareness of natural-resource management, including shifting responsibility to local people
- The enhancement and reinforcement of the traditional land- management system through collaboration with resource users
- At the same time, the dissemination of promising new practices that have been thoroughly researched and tested.
Some recent approaches to research and development tend to be more enlightened than those of the past. There is now an extensive literature that strongly advocates the use of indigenous technical knowledge and that argues for participatory research as a basis for the development of appropriate interventions.
This movement towards participation in research and extension is part of a shift towards involving local people more actively in setting research priorities and planning their own development. These participatory programmes are yielding valuable information about existing systems, their potentials and constraints, problems and possible solutions.
By incorporating local people in the process of project planning and technology development, indigenous skills and knowledge can be expanded and preserved rather than lost through attrition.
People can maintain some degree of control over the changes that occur and they can gain a better understanding of alternative technologies and management practices.
1032 92 - 1/71
Traditional land-use systems
Europe, Portugal, Alentejo, field trials, land-use system, mechanization, history of development, soil productivity, traditional tillage, cropping system, cost reduction, cereals, fodder, sunflower, soil parameters
3. Alternatives to the traditional land-use system in alentejo, portugal, with special reference to soil tillage (alternative zum traditionellen landnutzungssystem im alentejo, portugal, unter besonderer ber_cksichtigung der bodenbearbeitung.)
Gï¿½ttinger Beitrege zur Land- und Forstwirtschaft in den Tropen und Subtropen, 31, 1988, 188 pp.
The present paper deals with the problems of the land-use system currently applied in Alentejo which have arisen since agriculture has been mechanized. A review of the history of development of land use in southern Portugal gives the background for understanding the severe problems that faces agriculture in this region.
In field trials on two sites with different levels of soil productivity, a comparative study of the traditional tillage and cropping system, with two alternatives each, was made. The choice of alternatives aimed at reducing the costs for cereal production and exploring the possibilities for improving fodder production in cereal crop rotations. For this purpose, conservation tillage methods, on the one hand, and clover and forage crops, on the other, were compared with the traditional tillage and cropping system. Supplementary investigations of soil-related parameters, herbicide use and cultivation methods for sunflower provided additional information about the possibilities and limitations of the reduced tillage methods.
On average over the three experimental years, the different tillage treatments (ploughing, scarifying and direct drilling) had little effect on cereal yields and forage and pasture dry matter production. However, marked differences in cereal yields between tillage treatments could be detected for single years, weed infestation being the main factor in producing these differences. In contrast to the sandy soil, the triple-disc direct drilling system revealed some problems in assuring a satisfactory cereal plant stand on the heavy clay soil. Yet it was on the light-textured soil where the reduction of tillage intensity tended to produce slightly lower yields.
The triple-disc system proved not to be an appropriate direct-drilling unit for the seeding of sunflower on heavy clay soils. An adequate plant density could only be achieved with seedbed preparation. However, in a trial in which seeding was done by hand without preceding tillage operations, it was found that the direct drilling method itself can be successful in producing sunflower on clay soils.
Early sowing of sunflower is possible and may result in a considerable yield increase. Early sowing in winter, however, is possible only on non-tilled soil. Variation in plant density proved to have little effect on sunflower yield. No differences in the yield of sunflower were observed between fertilized and non-fertilized plots.
Certain crop rotation effects could already be observed after three years of experimentation by considering the effects of the preceding crops on the following ones. To some extent, these effects varied between tillage treatments. On the more productive clay soil, it was mainly the forage crop that showed positive effects, due to the suppression of weeds, whereas on the sandy soil it was the following wheat crop, mainly after ploughing. The regrowth of the green fallow was dependent not only on the soil tillage treatment but also on the herbicide level used on the preceding cereal crop. After one or two years of cereal production, ploughing resulted in a pronounced delay of pasture regrowth and in a reduced total dry matter production. The plant group most affected by ploughing were the legumes.
The higher the herbicide level, the lower the total dry matter production measured. The reverse was true for legume yield. A considerable decrease in surface runoff and an even greater increase in eroded soil was observed in small erosion trials when tillage intensity was reduced.
The investigation of physical, chemical and microbiological parameters of the soil as affected by the tillage method revealed, in some cases, large differences between tillage treatments.
Reduction in soil tillage led to a marked decrease in the nitrate content of sandy soil. The reverse was observed with respect to the soil respiration rate in the top surface layer. Oxygen concentration in the atmosphere of the topsoil under water-logging conditions was found to be less under direct drilling. However, no correlation could be found between oxygen concentration and plant growth.
Small or no differences between tillage treatments were detected in the root development of wheat, bulk density, soil temperature and soil water content at the end of the vegetation period of wheat.
The results are discussed with regard to the comparison of the traditional tillage and cropping system with the chosen alternatives and in the context of results obtained in tillage studies reported by other authors. The study concludes with a comparison of the economics of the different tillage methods, indicating an increase of soil productivity if reduced cultivation or direct drilling are properly performed.
Finally, prospects for changes needed in plant production in the Alentejo are given, and further research subjects, such as weed control and the suitability of other soil types for reduced cultivation, are proposed.
1033 92 - 1/72
Traditional land-use systems
Latin America, Brazil, tropical lowlands, Amazonia, indigenous farming systems, study, land tenure, deforestation, potential plants, agroforestry, non-farm activities, rural industry, employment, DESFIL
4. Indigenous farming systems and development of latin america: an amazonian example.
In: Proc. of the Humid Tropical Lowlands Conference, Panama, 1991, pp. 1-24
This paper discusses the possibilities and limitations of adopting indigenous farming systems for sustainable development of the moist tropics of South America. Specifically, the study proposes to
- ascertain whether indigenous farming models can be devised for adoption in the region;
- assess the economic role of traditional farming among market- oriented farmers;
- explain the relationship of indigenous agriculture to other forms of land uses, especially fallows and agroforests;
- define the scale of indigenous farming operations and target groups; and
- discuss the relevance of autochthonous practices as models of sustainable agriculture for the humid tropics of South America.
The study is based on preliminary surveys carried out among non-tribal, long-time residents of the Amazon estuary in Brazil. The agricultural systems practiced by various tribes are described.
An evaluation is made of the possibilities and limitations of indigenous farming as models of ecologically sustainable and viable land use.
The continued deforestation and attendant environmental degradation of newly opened humid tropical lowlands of Latin America have led to a search for ecologically sustainable, and economically viable, management systems. Recent research suggests that indigenous management systems may serve as alternatives to the current, short-sighted practices.
The skilful handling of diverse forest ecosystems among the indigenous people has shown to produce a variety of items including fruit, seeds, resins, fiber, and timber, as well as fauna that satisfies the inhabitants' basic subsistence needs. Utilization of a vast number of products requires detailed site-specific experience and familiarity with local biophysical elements and their interrelationships. The numerous products also are subjected to various degree of management and their output rates, seasonality of use, and amounts are influenced by diverse cultural controls encoded in myths, folklore, and community rules and regulations.
Concluding, the author states that the great variety of traditional crops associated with indigenous systems does not necessarily contribute to income generation. Crop specialisation and the large number of varieties that characterize caboclo farms may be important as repositories of genetic variability, and as sites for supplying subsistence production, but they are unable to contribute meaningfully to enhance the inhabitants' income.
The role of farming in the inhabitants' economy has tended to become of secondary importance. As less demanding, socially acceptable, and economically regarding alternatives have been devised, agriculture's share of the economy has declined. One conclusion that emerges is that indigenous farming will continue to produce a number of subsistence items for the caboclos, to earn supplemental income, to provide raw materials for rural industries, and to contribute to equalize household labor distribution during the year. The small scale family farms will essentially be an adjunct to non-farming activities. From an ecological viewpoint, the combination is desirable since the pressures on the environment will be lessened, and a large part of the land will continue to be covered by forest, albeit an anthropogenic one.
Agriculture and agroforestry should be viewed as integral segments of indigenous resource management systems. As is true among indigenous farmers elsewhere in the humid tropics of Latin America, the different phases of land use are not seen as different agricultural types, but components of an overall forest management system.
A further difficulty is that indigenous farming is site specific. No single agricultural system is applicable over an extensive area. In response to numerous combinations of environmental and cultural variables, indigenous agricultural systems show great spatial diversity.
Site-specific solutions have been devised by taking into account the ecological differences in relief, climate, soils, drainage, and natural vegetation characteristics, as well as the distinctive cultural features, such as local dietary preferences, accessibility to markets, historical events, local market niches, and personal choice. Thus, standard sets of procedures and crop combinations are uncommon.
1034 92 - 1/73
Traditional land-use systems
Africa, review, tropics, shifting cultivation, socioeconomics, institutions
5. Socio-economic and institutional considerations in improving shifting cultivation in tropical Africa.
In: FAO Soils Bulletin No. 53; FAO, Rome, Italy, 1984, pp. 117-120
The traditional peasant in the tropics has adopted bush fallow or shifting cultivation in response to declining soil fertility and sparse population density, with its implied unlimited land supply. The multiple cropping system to accommodate subsistence production is linked to several factors: the prevailing closed economy, a limited work force, and the low level of technology available. These cropping systems ensured that all the food products the family required or wanted were grown simultaneously on the same plot of land. In addition, these systems allowed the family to reduce the size and number of plots needing clearing. This enabled them to save limited labour for other important household tasks, as well as for leisure. These mixed cropping systems also provided biological disease and pest control.
Today the practice or adoption of shifting cultivation, like other farming systems, results from a combination of factors. Some of these are socio-economic; others are physical, including land, labour, technology, and all forms of capital; still others are institutional, such as cultural values, land tenure systems, social organization, traditional and new or modern institutions, input and output price policy.
Among the inherent disadvantages of these systems a few are listed below:
- The low remuneration of shifting cultivation, relative to its labour requirements and to the shifting cultivator's labour supply. It is also low because shifting cultivators cannot get a good price for their produce, because there are no markets for it.
- The massive and systematic destruction of forests and forest products and the degradation of forest soils which accompany shifting cultivation. This destruction constitutes a tremendous loss of valuable resources.
- Low investment capabilities characteristic of shifting cultivation.
This results from the low remuneration which makes all investments economically unappealing; this in turn leads to low productivity (thus completing a vicious circle).
The disadvantages imposed on shifting cultivation by various socio-economic and institutional changes relate to two phenomena: growing population and a growing need for cash income.
Traditional practices, with their low productivity, cannot produce enough to raise the peasant's consumption above the subsistence level or satisfy new needs which depend on cash.
Shifting cultivators today need more and more cash to buy new goods and services not produced by the family including transistor radios, gas lamps, sugar, schools, medical bills, security, etc. Peasants are finding it more difficult to practise classic shifting cultivation while producing the marketable surplus necessary to meet these new needs.
The major constraints to improving shifting cultivation in the African tropics are, by and large, the same constraints that limit agricultural development generally in those regions. The constraints in this paper deal with socio-economic aspects of the problem.
- Government assistance (financial and otherwise) should be made available to peasants. This will enable total output, per family and per caput, to increase.
- In order to speed up the recovery of initial, costly investments, cleared land could be used simultaneously for tree crops.
- Legislation instituting flexible family or individual land ownership with limited transfer or sales' rights could encourage shifting cultivators to invest more inland, thus increasing their productivity.
- Land settlement schemes used primarily to relax population pressure on over-populated areas could also be used as an indirect means to introduce continuous cropping needing fewer inputs.
- Governments and research institutions, at both the national and international levels, should give top priority to reearch in agronomy, agricultural mechanization, animal husbandry, agro- forestry, and socio-agroeconomics, especially when this research is oriented to the problems and the needs of more intensive exploitation of small-scale farms in tropical forest conditions.
1035 92 - 1/74
Traditional land-use systems
Africa, Nigeria, traditional methods, survey, study, land tenure, socio-economy, inheritance, organization of farming, income of farmers, credit, government aid, on-farm diagnostic research
6. Traditional agriculture in southeastern Nigeria: demographic, land tenure, and other socio-economic factors.
Beitr. Trop.Landw. Vet. med.,28, 1, 1990, pp. 5-17
The food crisis currently experienced in Nigeria underscores the great need to understand the production system of the small farmers who produce the bulk of the food consumed. Therefore, considerable attention has been devoted to study different forms of farming systems practised across the country with a view to identifying the constraints involved and finding ways and means of alleviating these constraints, within the small farmers' socioeconomic setting.
A reconnaissance survey was first undertaken in June 1984 in the 3 target areas in order to obtain an overview of the type, organization, and functioning of the prevailing farming systems, to appraise the land resources and the physical environments under which the small farmers operate.
The study was carried out to investigate the influence of demography, land tenure, credit and other socio-economic factors on the traditional bush fallow agriculture. In spite of large land resources, there was a strong influence of existing tenurial practices on the farming system.
Land tenure exists in various forms as co-operative (communal) property, permanent private property, and land leasing, the latter utilized in contract farming. One third of the farmers were members of cooperatives, others of peer groups, but both types of farming are not very effective.
There were considerable differences in the gross income. Government support for the farmers was minimal. 93% of all farms investigated had not received any government credits and only 20% had been able to make use of plant material supplied by the government.
It is concluded from this study that:
- Although arable lands were generally plentiful and population densities low, achievement of higher productivity per farm family was hampered by lack of evolution of modern, improved farming techniques, by rigid and unprogressive organizational and land tenurial practices which discouraged long-term investments by external cultivators, and by absence of credit facilities to farmers and farmers' aversion to cooperation societies.
- Farmers' off-farm engagement helped to diversify and stabilize traditional revenue bases and bring about some measure of self- sufficiency in local manpower which in turn was of economic significance, especially in remote communities which did not benefit from government developmental activities.
- The strength of the traditional farmers lay in their ability to cope with large farm families (used essentially as traditional labour sources), to adapt their agricultural activities to the dictates of a rather weak and ineffective agricultural extension system, and above all, their ability to wrest an income/farm productivity level that guaranteed a stable domestic economy, with enough food resources to sustain an extended family system, leaving a reasonable surplus to sustain rapidly expanding urban populations.
1036 92 - 1/75
Traditional land-use systems
7. Appropriate land use systems for shifting cultivators.
Schriftenreihe des FB 15 der TU Berlin, Nr. 138, 1991, pp. 99 +
Verlag J. Markgraf, Weikersheim, F.R.G.
This report is the result of a three-month mission carried out by a research team from the Centre for Advanced Training in Agricultural Development (CATAD), The Technical University of Berlin.
The research was conducted at the request of and in close cooperation with the Malaysian-German Forestry Research Project (MGFRP) especially with its Sabah complement in Sandakan.
This study was carried out under the Sabah component of the Malaysian German Forestry Research Project through the Sabah Forestry Department (SFD), supporting the latter in defining a concrete concept for the Rural Community Development Programme (RCDP). It was the SFD's intention to include agroforestry supporting measures under this programme.
The objective of the Malaysian-German Research Team was to develop a proposal for an economically and socially viable, as well as environmentally sound pilot project to be carried out in the hill area of Koromoko and Tg. Batu Darat in Kota Marudu District. Using this project as an example, designing experiences were extracted and a "model" was formulated which henceforth will serve to disseminate future
RCDP projects in other areas.
Methodologically, the study was divided into the orientation, the survey and the planning phases.
The orientation and survey phases were carried out in parallel with farmers and institutions. In the planning phase both parties were brought to one table as often as possible, leading to a "Memorandum of
Understanding" on how to proceed with the final planning and the further implementation of the project.
For the selection and application of methods throughout the study, the MGRT tried to follow a participatory approach, being defined as the ensured representation of the interests and influence of all parts of the different target groups.
The orientation and survey phases resulted in a comprehensive description and constraint analysis of the present land use system (LUS) in the target area and its determining factors.
The major problems regarding the present LUS are the low and inconsistent yields. They are caused by low to medium potential of the soils, insufficient regeneration periods for the soils, erosion and pests. There is a lack of wo/manpower mainly while slashing. Labour is unevenly distributed which leads to a high labour burden especially for women. One important limitation which is a part of these problems is the lack of knowledge about agricultural cropping techniques and livestock management. The access to external inputs for the farmers is limited due to their unavailability, as well as lack of cash income, transport and information.
Based on the constraints of the present LUS and the ideas, needs and interests of the farmers, some low external input LUSs were proposed.
Although the project proposals are based on low external inputs, great efforts towards an improved extension service are required. Apart from their specialized skills, each extension worker should also have basic technical knowledge about integrated farming systems.
Most institutions at district level were open-minded about the participatory and integrated approach although their strategies to enforce rural development were quite different. They showed a great interest and strongly supported the MRGT carrying out the research.
To what extent the commitment of the departments involved, towards better interagency cooperation and communication, will last or possibly spread remains uncertain.
The enthusiasm of many villagers gives reasons to believe that at least on project level, new approaches do have a chance of future success.
1037 92 -1/76
Traditional land-use systems
Africa, Zambia, shifting cultivation, farming systems, study, cassava, based systems, sorghum based systems, adaptive research planning, cropping systems, soil fertility, horticulture, firewood production
8. The sustainability of the impact of the integrated rural development programme (IRDP) Zambia/nw-province.
A Publ. of the Centre for Advanced Training in Agricultural Development, TU, Berlin; Nr. 116; 1988, 257 + annexes
The traditional farming system practised in Kabompo and in Zambezi Districts is described as the "Luvale System" of semi-permanent hoe and ox-plough cultivation. The staple crop is cassava. Traditionally the farmers prefer to clear virgin bush for the cultivation of new cassava fields, except in areas of increasing land pressure. The clearing is mainly carried out between March and June. The trees and shrubs are stacked in piles ready for burning in October. Cassava is either grown on the flat, on ridges or on mounds. During the first year of cultivation it is intercropped with groundnuts, sweet potatoes, beans, local maize, calabashes, cucumbers, water melons, pumpkins and rosella.
Cassava can be harvested after the first year, but it usually remains in the ground for at least two or three years, sometimes even longer.
Generally the cassava plant is easy to cultivate. In recent years, however, its cultivation has become more and more difficult in some areas, due to the cassava mealy bug (Phenacoccus manihot) which has spread into the project region. The population of mealy bugs is continuing to increase causing serious damage leading to problems in securing cuttings for the planting season.
The sorghum based farming system called "Kaonde-system" is found in Chizela District. It is a shifting cultivation system based on a sorghum-field, called "bujimi" in Kikaonde.
After clearing the bush at the beginning and the burning at the end of the dry season the "bujimi" is cultivated. The dominant crop is sorghum.
Minor intercrops include maize and pumpkins, grown by a majority of the farmers, and to a lesser extent beans, water-melons and cucumbers. On some "bujimi" there are also patches where finger-millet and sweet sorghum are grown. The field is entirely cultivated for three to six years, before it is again abandoned. There is no crop rotation during the years in which it is cultivated. Some minor intercrops such as beans and cucumbers, however, are often no longer cultivated on the older fields.
In addition, there are other small separate fields of groundnuts and sweet potatoes. Usually, grass fallows are used for these fields. The grasses are hoed up into mounds on which the crops are planted. Often these fields are only used one year.
In the cassava based shifting cultivation system, maize is usually grown after several cycles of cassava or on cleared secondary bush. The cash-crop fields tend to be close to the village. Maize is cropped continuously or sometimes rotated with sunflower or groundnuts. Little consideration appears to be given to planting maize on new land in the belief that the fertilizer will restore the fertility of the cassava lands. Six years after this survey, however, the question arises whether these findings still reflect the reality.
The high participation rate and the increase of the cash-crop production is one of the achievements of the programme. But the high percentage of maize cultivation suggests a high degree of maize monocropping.
If the farmers are monocropping pure stand maize on the same fields for several years, the sustainability of the programme is endangered. Maize monocropping leads to the deterioration of the soils in the long run and to a rapid decrease in yields. Due to the inpact of these risks they are discussed in detail in this paper.
1038 92 - 1/77
Traditional land-use systems
Pacific, Solomon Islands, case study, indigenous knowledge, soil use, plant productivity, CTA, IBSRAM
9. Traditional knowledge about the use of soils in the Solomon Islands.
In: Proc. of a IBSRAM Workshop "Soil Management and Smallholder Development in the Pacific Islands"; IBSRAM Proc. No. 8; 1989, pp. 225-231
This case study was conducted to gather information from local people about their knowledge of the soils they use, particularly with regard to the use of different soil types which are classified in their own languages. Some of the things investigated in this study are the local classification of the soils, and the people's views on the use of the soil.
The investigation was conducted on a questionnaire/interview basis. The questionnaire was used as a guide during discussions with the local people. During the discussion session, the interviewer recorded all the necessary information the farmer put forward. Following the interview, a personal soil data sheet was used to record features of the identified soil types as additional information.
Agricultural production in the Solomon Islands has been developed independently by Solomon Islanders over thousands of years. They fish, forage, hunt, and cultivate for their own livelihood. Over the years of continuous shifting cultivation, each tribe or language group in the Solomon Islands has identified different soil types which suit a certain crop.
This case study shows five different soil types which are classified using the traditional system. The local classification system is based mainly on the soil colour and texture, as the local names imply.
The five different soil types identified have different crop suitability. Most of the crops grown are the traditional root crops, which include yam, taro and sweet potato, tree crops (such as coconut), and others like banana and sugarcane. This does not mean that only the crops listed under each soil type are suitable for that particular soil type. Other crops may be suitable, but the people themselves have not tried them out. That is why introducing a new crop cannot be easily accepted by the farmers, since they may think it will not perform well on a particular soil type.
This way of thinking among local people highlights the need for recorded information on traditional soil knowledge so that a better land-utilization programme can be organized. It is important that there should be a two-way system of soil information transfer between both the local farmers and modern agriculturalists, which is one way in which agricultural development may be speeded up especially at the smallholder level.
This will be possible if more organized land-use planning and land-suitability assessments are undertaken.
A close liaison between traditional knowledge and modern knowledge is required in order to make the best use of the land.