Human Ecology

, Volume 7, Issue 3, pp 269–283 | Cite as

Population and agricultural intensity in the humid tropics

  • Daniel E. Vasey
Article

Abstract

A review of models of agricultural intensification and their application to the agricultural systems of the humid tropics is presented. Taken into account are the distributions of these systems at various population densities, available data on labor efficiencies, the costs of establishing continuous cropping, and data regarding soils under cultivation and various types of fallow. The findings that fallows much longer than 10 or 15 years serve no known agronomic function, that given preindustrial technology, grass fallows are disadvantageous, even environmentally destructive, and that continuous cropping usually entails a considerable amount of environmental modification support the interpretations that agricultural intensification in the humid tropics is best understood in terms of ecologically optimal strategies at different population densities. Points needing further investigation are highlighted: the reasons for very long fallows, and the comparative labor efficiencies of fallow and continuous cropping systems where crops and environments are similar.

Key words

agricultural intensification population density humid tropics 

Preview

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

References

  1. Ahn, P. (1969).West African Soils. Oxford University Press, London.Google Scholar
  2. Allan, W. (1965).The African Husbandman. Barnes and Noble, New York.Google Scholar
  3. Armillas, P. (1961). Land use in pre-Columbian America. In Stamp, L. D. (ed.),A History of Land Use in Arid Regions, UNESCO, Paris, pp. 255–276.Google Scholar
  4. Barrau, J. (1958).Subsistence Agriculture in Melanesia. Bernice P. Bishop Museum Bulletin 219, Honolulu.Google Scholar
  5. Barrau, J. (1961).Subsistence Agriculture in Polynesia and Micronesia. Bernice P. Bishop Museum Bulletin 223, Honolulu.Google Scholar
  6. Bartlett, H. H. (1956). Fire, primitive agriculture, and grazing in the tropics. In Thomas, W. L. (ed.),Man's Role in Changing the Face of the Earth, University of Chicago Press, Chicago, pp. 692–720.Google Scholar
  7. Bayliss-Smith, T. (1974). Constraints on population growth: The case of the Polynesian outlier atolls in the pre-contact period.Human Ecology 2: 259–295.Google Scholar
  8. Boserup, E. (1965).The Conditions of Agricultural Growth. Aldine, Chicago.Google Scholar
  9. Bronson, B. (1966). Roots and the subsistence of the ancient Maya.Southwestern Journal of Anthropology 22: 251–279.Google Scholar
  10. Bronson, B. (1972). Farm labor and the evolution of food production. In Spooner, B. (ed.),Population Growth: Anthropological Implications, M. I. T. Press, Cambridge, Mass., pp. 190–218.Google Scholar
  11. Brookfield, H. C. (1972). Intensification and disintensification in Pacific agriculture: A theoretical approach.Pacific Viewpoint 15: 30–48.Google Scholar
  12. Burkill, I. H. (1966).A Dictionary of the Economic Products of the Malay Peninsula, 2nd ed. Ministry for Agriculture and Cooperatives, Kuala Lumpur.Google Scholar
  13. Carneiro, R. (1961). Slash-and-burn cultivation among the Kuikuru and its implications for cultural development in the Amazon basin. In Wilbert, J. (ed.),The Evolution of Horticultural Systems in South America, Antropologica, supplement 2, Caracas, pp. 47–67.Google Scholar
  14. Carneiro, R. (1970). The transition from hunting to horticulture in the Amazon basin.Proceedings, VIII International Congress of Anthropological and Ethnological Sciences, Vol. 3. Science Council of Japan, Tokyo, pp. 244–248.Google Scholar
  15. Clark, C., and Haswell, M. (1967).The Economics of Subsistence Agriculture. St. Martin's Press, New York.Google Scholar
  16. Clarke, W. C. (1966). From extensive to intensive shifting cultivation: A succession from New Guinea.Ethnology 5: 347–359.Google Scholar
  17. Clarke, W. C. (1976). Maintenance of agriculture and human habitats within the tropical forest ecosystem.Human Ecology 4: 247–259.Google Scholar
  18. Clarkson, J. D. (1968).The Cultural Ecology of a Chinese Village: Cameron Highlands, Malaysia. University of Chicago, Department of Geography Research Paper 114, Chicago.Google Scholar
  19. Coe, M. D. (1964). The chinampas of Mexico.Scientific American 211: 90–98.Google Scholar
  20. Conklin, H. C. (1957).Hanunoo Agriculture: A Report on an Integral System of Shifting Cultivation in the Phillippines. FAO, Rome.Google Scholar
  21. Conzemius, E. (1932).Ethnographical Survey of the Miskito and Sumu Indians of Honduras and Nicaragua. Bureau of American Ethnology, Washington, D.C.Google Scholar
  22. Denevan, W. M. (1970). Aboriginal drained-field cultivation in the Americas.Science 169: 647–654.Google Scholar
  23. Denevan, W. M. (1971). Campa subsistence in the Gran Pajonal, eastern Peru.Geographical Review 61: 496–518.Google Scholar
  24. Dumont, R. (1957).Types of Rural Economy (trans. by D. Magnin). Methuen, London.Google Scholar
  25. Floyd, B. (1969).Eastern Nigeria. Praeger, New York.Google Scholar
  26. Fong, N. K., Lian, T. C., and Wikkramatileke, R. (1966). Three farmers of Singapore: An example of specialized food production in an urban unit.Pacific Viewpoint 7: 169–185.Google Scholar
  27. Freeman, J. D. (1955).Iban Agriculture: A Report on the Shifting Cultivation of Hill Rice by the Iban of Sarawak. Her Majesty's Stationery Office, London.Google Scholar
  28. Geddes, W. R. (1954).The Land Dyaks of Sarawak. Her Majesty's Stationery Office, London.Google Scholar
  29. Geddes, W. R. (1976).Migrants of the Mountains: The Cultural Ecology of the Blue Miao (HmungNjua) of Thailand. Clarendon Press, Oxford.Google Scholar
  30. Geertz, C. (1963).Agricultural Involution: The Process of Ecological Change in Indonesia. University of California Press, Berkeley.Google Scholar
  31. Gourou, P. (1953).The Tropical World: Its Social and Economic Conditions and Its Future Status. Longman, London.Google Scholar
  32. Gross, D. R. (1975). Protein capture and cultural development in the Amazon basin.American Anthropologist 77: 526–549.Google Scholar
  33. Hanks, L. (1972).Rice and Man. Aldine, Chicago.Google Scholar
  34. Harris, M. (1974).Cows, Pigs, Wars and Witches: The Riddles of Culture. Random House, New York.Google Scholar
  35. Heider, K. (1970).The Dugum Dani: A Papuan Culture in the Highlands of West New Guinea. Aldine, Chicago.Google Scholar
  36. Janlekha, K. O. (1955).A Study of the Economy of A Rice Growing Village in Central Thailand. Ministry of Agriculture, Bangkok.Google Scholar
  37. Kellman, M. C. (1970).Secondary Plant Succession in Tropical Montane Mindanao. Australian National University, Research School of Pacific Studies, Canberra.Google Scholar
  38. Lathrap, D. (1968). The hunting economies of the tropical forest zone of South America: An attempt at historical perspective. In Lee, R. B., and Devore, I. (eds.),Man the Hunter, Aldine, Chicago, pp. 23–29.Google Scholar
  39. Lathrap, D. (1970).The Upper Amazon. Praeger, New York.Google Scholar
  40. Laudelout, H. (1961).Dynamics of Tropical Soils in Relation to Their Fallowing Techniques. FAO, Rome.Google Scholar
  41. Lévi-Strauss, C. (1950). The use of wild plants in tropical South America. In Steward, J. (ed.),Handbook of South American Indians, Vol. VI, Bureau of American Ethnology Bulletin 143, Washington, D.C., pp. 87–136.Google Scholar
  42. Ludwig, H. D. (1968). Permanent farming on Ukara: The impact of land shortage on husbandry practices. In Ruthenberg, H. (ed.),Smallholder Farming and Smallholder Development in Tanzania, Weltorum Verlag, Munich, pp. 87–136.Google Scholar
  43. Meggers, B. J. (1971).Amazonia: Man and Culture in a Counterfeit Paradise. Aldine, Chicago.Google Scholar
  44. Miracle, M. P. (1967).Agriculture in the Congo Basin. University of Wisconsin Press, Madison.Google Scholar
  45. Moerman, M. (1968).Agricultural Change and Peasant Choice in a Thai Village. University of California Press, Berkeley.Google Scholar
  46. Morley, S. G. (1956).The Ancient Maya, 3rd ed. Stanford University Press, Stanford, Calif.Google Scholar
  47. Moss, R. P., and Morgan, W. B. (1970). Soils, plants and farmers in West Africa: A consideration of their relationships, with special reference to contiguous areas of forest and savanna in South-West Nigeria. In Garlick, J. P., and Keay, R. W. J. (eds.),Human Ecology in the Tropics, Pergamon, London, pp. 1–32.Google Scholar
  48. Nye, P. H., and Greenland, D. J. (1960).The Soil Under Shifting Cultivation. Common-wealth Bureau of Soils Technology, London.Google Scholar
  49. Pereira, H. C., Chenery, E., and Mills, W. R. (1954). The transient effects of grasses on the structure of tropical soils.Empire Journal of Experimental Agriculture 22: 148–160.Google Scholar
  50. Pospisil, L. (1963).Kapaukan Papuan Economy. Yale University Press, New Haven, Conn.Google Scholar
  51. Puleston, D. E. (1968).Brosium alicastrum as a subsistence alternative for Classic Maya of the central southern lowlands, MA thesis, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia.Google Scholar
  52. Reed, W. E. (1951).Reconnaisance Soil Survey of Liberia. United States Department of Agriculture, Agricultural Information Bulletin 66, Washington, D.C.Google Scholar
  53. Richards, P. W. (1952).The Tropical Rain Forest. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge.Google Scholar
  54. Russell, E. J. (1950).Soil Conditions and Plant Growth. Longman, London.Google Scholar
  55. Ruthenberg, H. (1971).Farming Systems in the Tropics. Clarendon Press, London.Google Scholar
  56. Scott, G. (1974). Effects of shifting cultivation in the Gran Pajonal, eastern Peru.Proceedings, Association of American Geographers 6:58–61.Google Scholar
  57. Serpenti, L. M. (1965).Cultivators in the Swamps: Social Structure and Horticulture in a New Guinea Society. Van Gorcum, Assen.Google Scholar
  58. Siemens, A. H., and Puleston, D. E. (1972). Ridged fields and associated features in southern Campeche: New perspectives on the lowland Maya.American Antiquity 37: 228–239.Google Scholar
  59. Sioli, H. (1973). Recent activities in the Brazilian Amazon region and their ecological effects. In Meggers, B. J., Ayensu, E. S., and Duckworth, W. D. (eds.),Tropical Forest Ecosystems in Africa and South America: A Comparative Record, Smithsonian Institution Press, Washington, D.C.Google Scholar
  60. Small, C. A. (1972).A toll Agriculture. Department of Agriculture, Tarawa.Google Scholar
  61. Turner, B. L., II. (1974). Prehistoric intensive agriculture in the Mayan lowlands.Science 185: 118–124.Google Scholar
  62. Vine, H. (1953). Experiments on the maintenance of soil fertility at Ibadan, Nigeria, 1922–51.Empire Journal of Experimental Agriculture 21: 65–85.Google Scholar
  63. Vine, H. (1954). Is the lack of fertility of tropical African soils exaggerated?Proceedings, Second Inter-African Soils Conference 1: 389–412.Google Scholar
  64. Vine, H. (1968). Developments in the study of soils and shifting agriculture in tropical Africa. In Moss, R. P. (ed.),The Soil Resources of Tropical Africa, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge.Google Scholar
  65. Waddell, E. (1972).The Mound Builders: Agricultural Practices, Environment, and Society in the Central Highlands of New Guinea. University of Washington Press, Seattle.Google Scholar
  66. Wallace, B. J. (1970).Hill and Valley Farmers: Socio-Economie Change Among a Phillippine People. Schenkmann, Cambridge, Mass.Google Scholar
  67. Walter, H. (1971).Ecology of Tropical and Subtropical Vegetation. Oliver and Boyd, Edinburgh.Google Scholar
  68. Webster, C. C., and Wilson, P. N. (1966).Agriculture in the Tropics. Longman, London.Google Scholar
  69. Wood, H. A. (1963).Northern Haiti: Land, Land Use, and Settlement, A Geographical Investigation of the Départment du Nord. University of Toronto Press, Toronto.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Plenum Publishing Corporation 1979

Authors and Affiliations

  • Daniel E. Vasey
    • 1
  1. 1.Lecturer in the History of Science and TechnologyUniversity of PapuaNew Guinea

Personalised recommendations