lisa monaghan

Lado (1989). Traditional agricultural land use and some changing trends in Maridi District, southern Sudan

Land use is an expression of the way people manage natural ecosystems to provide some of their basic needs.’ Thus, the activities related to agricultural land use have formed the socioeconomic backbone of society. In rural areas, land and its tenure are the key to life, ensuring that tillage of the soil is necessary for people’s material needs and ‘traditional’ ceremonies. Land tenure arrangements have long been recognized as playing a fundamental role in the development process.” Land tenure may be defined as ‘the fabric of rights and obligations comprising the tripartite relationship between man, land and society’.Studies on land use in the Western World have mainly focused on agricultural potential, physical characteristics of the soil and its inherent fertility and productivity, as well as economic, political, social and productivity data.5 However, most work done so far in Third World countries has failed to account for the multiplicity of factors influencing land use, due to a preoccupation with standard economic principles. The past neglect of ‘traditional’ agricultural systems by research scientists s mainly due to the fact that the methods of cultivation and the complexities of habitats and land use techniques are deeply rooted in indigenous thought and culture. Consequently, these studies have often failed to portray the variety of agricultural techniques, land use and crop management strategies. As a result of their long experience – through trial and error, and past observations of soil, natural vegetation, climate

(particularly rainfall) and other natural phenomena - peasant farmers have learned to adapt their cultivation methods and patterns of cropping and land use, and have the ability to find and grow the most suitable types of crop for the various microclimatic and socioecological conditions. In addition, during the civil war of 1955-72 farmers’ adoption of various management strategies’ - such as the maintenance of soil fertility, the making of ridges and mounds (to concentrate fertile topsoil around crops and facilitate drainage), the adoption of new crop varieties (eg locust- and drought-resistant hybrid maize and sorghum) and pest management - were shown to be undertaken for rational reasons, such as risk-avoidance3

Category: Anthropology and History, Economics and Livelihoods

Sub-category: Community, Land, Local