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Periodical article Periodical article Leiden University catalogue Leiden University catalogue WorldCat catalogue WorldCat
Title:A development ethnography of Urhobo agriculture: an ecological perspective
Author:Okpokunu, EdojaISNI
Periodical:West African Journal of Archaeology
Geographic term:Nigeria
agricultural history
agricultural ecology
Abstract:This paper presents an ethnographic analysis of the patterns of agricultural development within the ecosystem of the Urhobo (in the Niger Delta hinterland, Nigeria) over several centuries and shows how a complex interaction between ecological and socioeconomic factors gave rise to its degeneration in recent times. Based on data from previous studies carried out in 1987-1988 and 1990, the paper presents information on physical characteristics of the Urhobo environment, including ecological variations, types of farm land, space for land and farming, soil types and ecological prospects. The paper concludes that earlier generations could sustain agricultural development in the Urhobo ecosystem because their mode of adaptation throughout was oriented towards environmental conservation. For them, the purpose of agriculture was to provide food and possibilities for social exchange. Agricultural development consisted of the gradual acquisition of new crops, the evolution of viable farming systems, and appropriate technology. When this mode of adaptation began to get disrupted, especially some 40 years ago, Urhobo agriculture came into its present crisis. Land has become smaller and poorer. Human ambition increased, new economic alternatives emerged with which agriculture cannot compete in the context of a monetized economy. The objective of agriculture today is no longer just food but money. Bibliogr., sum. [ASC Leiden abstract]