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Title: Local knowledge of agriculture/environmental symbioses : farmers and natural resource management in Shinyanga District, Tanzania
Author: Siedenburg, Jules Renaldo
Awarding Body: University of Oxford
Current Institution: University of Oxford
Date of Award: 2004
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In rural districts of Sub-Saharan Africa, livelihoods typically centre around peasant agriculture and herding. While historically effective, changing resource constraints associated with rapid population growth and resource degradation have put these livelihoods under strain. Dramatic shifts over recent years in agricultural policy and the prices of agricultural inputs and outputs have not helped. Together, such changes arguably amount to a set of destabilising influences and a relative paucity of advantageous opportunities. The question is whether local people successfully adapt their land-use strategies to these changing circumstances. 'Sustainable agriculture' technologies such as agroforestry practices represent an obvious means of adaptation to change in low-potential areas, which largely lack access to purchased agricultural inputs. Yet despite the promise these technologies have shown in farm trials, their adoption by farmers has generally been hesitant and limited. This has been widely interpreted as evidence that these technologies do not respond effectively to the needs of target beneficiaries. Based on a household survey from Shinyanga District, Tanzania, the study revisits the issues of adaptation to changing circumstances and technology adoption. It highlights the possibility that some households adapt to change more effectively than others, with some adopting advantageous available technologies while others do not. Its focus is on the differing knowledge and perceptions informing decisions vis-à-vis tree management, with a view to identifying distinct knowledge types within the wider body of local knowledge. The study posits then tests a theoretical model problematising local knowledge. It finds that integrating local knowledge variables into regressions of tree management practice greatly increases their explanatory power, suggesting that these variables do not simply reflect incentives, as suggested by contemporary theory. The implication is that problematic local knowledge may critically constrain rural livelihoods in areas facing unprecedented challenges and opportunities. Finally, diverse associations with observed knowledge patterns are considered, suggesting promising ways to build on this work.
Supervisor: Heyer, Judith U. ; Belshaw, Deryke Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Farmers ; Natural resources ; Management ; Tanzania ; Shinyanga District