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Periodical article Periodical article Leiden University catalogue Leiden University catalogue WorldCat catalogue WorldCat
Title:Riziculture and the Founding of Monarchy in Imerina
Author:Berg, Gerald M.
Periodical:The Journal of African History
Geographic term:Madagascar
Merina polity
Peoples of Africa (Ethnic Groups)
History and Exploration
Agriculture, Natural Resources and the Environment
External link:https://www.jstor.org/stable/181805
Abstract:Though little direct evidence is available, inferences from land-use models and consideration of oral traditions and written accounts help to explain why irrigated riziculture became popular and how it spread through the central highlands to Imerina. Rice had been cultivated on the east coast of Madagascar for centuries and reached Imerina through the southern plateau but the hydraulic technology of Merina paddy rice growing arose from local needs from the late seventeenth to mid-eighteenth centuries. As swidden farmers exhausted the forests, paddy rice cultivation and water management systems attending it became increasingly important. Though irrigated riziculture enhanced the value of co-operative labour among hitherto isolated groups within Imerina, it cannot be seen as the direct cause of the monarchy's authority. It is suggested instead that the sacredness of land and the accumulation of rights in newly irrigated land by those who controlled water hastened the evolution of a rigid social hierarchy which exalted a few and subjugated the rest. Map, notes.