No. 34(2007)
Indigenous Agriculture in Tanzania and Zambia in the Present Environmental and Socioeconomic Milieu

Edited by Shigeru ARAKI

pp. 1-2

Preface and Project Overview

Shigeru ARAKI

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Comparative Study of Farming Systems in Southwestern Tanzania: Agrarian Adaptation in a Sociohistorical Perspective

Department of Culture and Psychology, Seisen Jyogakuin College

    In this article, I discuss the diversification of cultivation in southwestern Tanzania, particularly the Makete district. I focus on farming systems in Tandala village and Iniho village and examine field types, crops, farming methods, and labor forms. These villages use a similar traditional farming system called masuve cultivation, which is a type of slash-and-burn cultivation in which mounds of vegetation cuttings are formed and burned on mountain slopes. Farmers mainly cultivate beans, Irish potatoes, and sorghum. Another type of farming, esiamba cultivation, involves clearing and hoe-based cultivation on flat fields in a hilly area. Maize and wheat are mainly cultivated in such plots today. As part of sociopolitical transformations in Tanzania, a modern farming system, including the introduction of new crops, paid labor, and chemical fertilizers, has been adopted to some degree. The two villages examined here have reacted differently to agricultural change. I argue that differences in farming systems have historically developed in ways that reflect the actions and choices of local people, influenced by local conditions with regard to regional politics, Christianization, and post-colonial economic development.

Key Words: Agrarian adaptation; Christian impact; Slash-and-burn cultivation; Sociohistorical analysis; Tanzania.

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pp. 21-38

Development of the Plantain-Based Culture of the Nyakusa of Southern Tanzania

Satoshi MARUO
Graduate School of Asian and African Area Studies, Kyoto University 

    The Nyakyusa constitute an ethnic group in southern Tanzania who are known as the “banana-eaters.” This paper describes and analyzes the plantain-based farming culture of the Nyakyusa from socio-historical, ethnobotanical, and ecological viewpoints, focusing on utilization, management skills, and local varieties. The Nyakyusa have built a close relationship with the crop over hundreds of years. In contrast to other plantain growers in the forest environments of Central Africa, the Nyakyusa create home gardens. In home-garden farming, a miniature forest is created for each family unit, requiring more intensive care than the slash-and-burn agriculture used in natural forest environments. The Nyakyusa have developed cultivation skills, tools, vocabulary, and varietal diversity in relation to the plants, and have also created symbolic meanings for the plants that are related to prosperity, the idea of the sacred, and gender values. Such symbolization may have worked as a social tool to protect this unique crop by conferring multiple meanings upon it. In other words, plantain probably played a key role in consolidating the development of the Nyakyusa rural community.

Key Words: Nyakyusa; Plantain; Musa spp.; Home garden; Cultural importance.

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pp. 39-55

Characterization of volcanic ash soils in southwestern Tanzania: Morphology, physicochemical properties, and classification

Balthazar Michael MSANYA1, Hiroo OTSUKA2, Shigeru ARAKI3,Nobuhide FUJITAKE4
1Dep. of Soil Science, Fac. of Agriculture, Sokoine University of Agriculture
2Japan International Research Center for Agricultural Sciences
3Graduate School of Asian and African Area Studies, Kyoto University
4Graduate School of Agricultural Science, Kobe University 

This study examined the characteristics of volcanic ash soils in southwestern Tanzania. Twelve pedons of volcanic origin were studied, and 66 soil samples were analyzed. Soil morphology revealed volcanic ash layers of varying thicknesses. Most pedons had a dark thick humus surface and buried A, AB, and BA horizons with melanic indices of 1.7 or less. Except in two pedons, the NaF pH was 9.4 or more, reflecting an exchange complex dominated by amorphous materials and/or Al–humus complexes. The phospate-retention capacity ranged from 65 to 100%, except in two pedons, and was positively correlated with NaF pH. Both Tanzanian and Japanese volcanic ash soils showed comparable ranges of base saturation (BS) values, but the distribution patterns of BS basic cations, for example, showed some differences. Some Tanzanian volcanic ash soils had higher BS values than their Japanese counterparts. While the Japanese soils were generally more calcic and magnesic, the Tanzanian soils were more potassic and sodic than their counterparts, most likely reflecting lithological differences among parent materials in the two study areas. According to the USDA Soil Taxonomy, nine pedons satisfied the requirements for andic properties and were classified as Andisols at the order level, whereas according to FAO World Reference Base (WRB) soil classification, eight pedons were classified as Andosols at the level of reference soil groups.  

Key Words: Soil classification; Morphology; Physicochemical characteristics; Tanzania; Volcanic ash soils.

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pp. 57-74

Effects of socio-economic changes on cultivation systems under customary land tenure in MBozi District, southerzania

Juichi ITANI

Graduate School of Asian and African Area Studies, Kyoto University

  Indigenous cultivation systems in the Nyasa–Tanganyika Corridor of Mbozi District, southern Tanzania, reflect strategies developed to cope with political, socioeconomic, and ecological circumstances and changes. Such cultivation systems were formed under the customary land tenure system by which most lands in village are held by a few native clans. A clan elder, called the esongo, manages the distribution and use of each clan’s land. Clans without large landholdings can earn income by borrowing land or helping an owner of an ox cultivate large fields. Therefore, their activities have also been controlled by the rule of the native clans. Clan land management by the esongo has created certain norms of ecological use, which have helped maintain woodlands despite economic development and population pressures. Thus, the clan-controlled land has functioned as a “commons.” Although cultivation systems have changed at times in response to internal and external socioeconomic conditions, customary environmental use practices have served to harmonize human–environmental interactions. However, maize cultivation by ox plowing in permanent fields is rapidly spreading throughout this area in response to market factors and socioeconomic changes. This current change may affect both local society and the environment.

Key Words: Economic liberalization; Miombo woodland; Nyamwanga; Ox plowing; Slash-and-burn.

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pp. 75-89

Ten Years of Population Change and the Chitemene Slash-and-Burn Syst em around the Mpika Area, Northern Zambia

Shigeru ARAKI
Graduate School of Asian and African Area Studies, Kyoto University 

Newly cleared fields created by the chitemene slash-and-burn system were counted in two satellite images (Landsat TM 7: path 170, low 68) taken in 1994 and 2001 in the Mpika area of the Northern Province, Zambia. These images indicated that the number of chitemene fields was almost the same in 1994 and 2001. However, expansion of chitemene to the interior of forest reserves was apparent in the image from 2001, which clearly showed that the land area is not sufficient to maintain the chitemene system under the present agroenvironmental and socio-economic conditions.The relationship between the number of chitemene fields and population revealed that the density of chitemene in the Standard Enumeration Area (SEA ) increased up to 1 chitemene/km2 with an increase in population density up to 10 people/km2, while it decreased with a further increase in population density. The carrying capacity of the chitemene was thus estimated to be at most 10 persons/ chitemene/km2, a capacity achieved through farmers’ efforts to diversify crop production. Between 1990 and 2000, the population in the resettlement project areas doubled, while in other areas, the population did not increase. This had diverse effects on the environment due to both immigration and emigration in the surveyed areas.   

Key Words: Chitemene; Carrying capacity; Miombo; TAZARA; Resettlement; Zambia.

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pp. 91-113

Agricultural policy change and indigenous agriculture: experience and re-evaluation of a shifting cultivation system In Northern Province, Zambia

Faculty of Humanities, Hirosaki University 

Studies of market liberalization implemented as part of structural adjustment programs (SAPs) have generally noted the strong impacts of these policies on agrarian life and the lives of local people. However, analyses of how market liberalization has affected local life have tended to present an image of “passive peasants.” In this paper, I focus on the logic of local people who have responded actively to changing conditions brought about by new agricultural policies through a case study of Bemba villages in Zambia. Currently, villagers are evaluating newly introduced crops and new agricultural techniques, and reevaluating their indigenous cultivation system. I also discuss the process of change in the indigenous cultivation system, and societal effects of the introduction of market liberalization.    

Key Words: Bemba; Indigenous agricultural system; Market liberalization; Villagers’ logic; Leveling mechanism.

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pp. 115-135


Shuichi OYAMA
Department of Geography, Tokyo Metropolitan University

Graduate School of Asian and African Area Studies, Kyoto University 

  Here, we describe the cropping system of bujimi slash-and-burn cultivation by the Kaonde people in northwestern Zambia. Bujimi cultivation comprises three cropping systems: monde, making ash patches; milala, making mounds; and masengele, making flat fields. The three cropping systems accumulate soil fertility in different manners, and soil fertility dynamics vary after cultivation. Sorghum was sown for three or four consecutive years, usually followed by maize cultivation for additional 3 or 4 years. After clearing closed forest, the Kaonde gradually expanded small plots of the three cropping systems in the newly generated grassland adjacent to the cultivated field each year, thus creating new soil in bujimi fields for three or four successive years. As a result, varied soil fertility was created in mosaic patterns by combining the cropping systems with the number of cultivation years. The Kaonde also observed the grass species and grass biomass in crop fields and used them as indicators of soil fertility. When they noticed a decline in soil fertility, they planted sweet potato and cassava instead of sorghum monoculture. The Kaonde people maintain sustainable food production through multifold soil fertility preservation and mixed cropping.

Key Words: Bujimi system; Kaonde; Miombo woodland; Shifting cultivation; Zambia.

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