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Periodical article Periodical article Leiden University catalogue Leiden University catalogue WorldCat catalogue WorldCat
Title:Water, culture and agricultural development
Author:Claxton, MervynISNI
Year:2000
Periodical:Présence africaine
Issue:161-162
Pages:48-74
Language:English
Geographic term:Subsaharan Africa
Subjects:agricultural development
subsistence farming
agricultural technology
irrigation
Abstract:The diminution of water resources in the world has taken on alarming proportions. It is estimated that in the year 2025, only 30 countries (for the most part developed countries) will be autosufficient with respect to water. Water is essential to all agriculture, and since agriculture is the basis of the economy of virtually all developing countries (it represents more than 50 percent of gross domestic product in sub-Saharan Africa) it is of crucial importance to the economic development of those countries. Traditional tropical land use and occupational structures have usually been locale-specific and ecologically sound, but such traditional systems, instead of being utilized and improved upon, have been, for the most part, rejected or destroyed by modern agricultural development programmes. Furthermore, agricultural development practices based on modern technologies developed for temperate zones have been applied in tropical zones without any thought given to their cultural, socioeconomic and ecological contexts. The author gives several examples of traditional agricultural practices, many from sub-Saharan Africa. He notes that it is the failure to take cultural factors into account that has led to the failure of much of the irrigation technology transferred to Africa. He concludes that Africa has an enormous agricultural potential which will fulfil its promise, however, only if the current practice of indiscriminately applying inappropriate Western agricultural technology ceases, if the value of traditional agricultural practices is recognized, and if the latter are integrated into African agricultural development strategies. Ref., sum. in French.
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