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Indigenous soil and water management in Senegambian rice farming systems


Considerable attention has focussed on the potential of indigenous agricultural knowledge for sustainable development. Drawing upon fieldwork on the soil and water management principles of rice farming systems in Senegambia, this paper examines the potential of the traditional system for a sustainable food security strategy. Problems with pumpirrigation are reviewed as well as previous efforts in swamp rice development. It is argued that sustainability depends on more than ecological factors and in particular, requires sensitivity to socio-economic parameters such as the labor demands of the food security strategy, the sexual division of labor, and food pricing policies.

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Additional information

This research was funded in part by the Center for Research on Economic Development of the University of Michigan. The author would like to acknowledge the comments of Sarja Mboge, Alphusain Marong, Tony Bebbington, Susanna Hecht, Michael Watts and the anonymous reviewers who read earlier drafts. Opinions expressed are the author's alone.

Judith A. Carney is an assistant professor of Geography at the University of California Los Angeles. She received her doctoral degree from the University of California Berkeley. Her dissertation, “The Social History of Gambian Rice Production: An Analysis of Food Security Strategies,” examines gender conflicts with Gambian agrarian change. A subsequent Rockefeller Foundation post-doctoral fellowship in agriculture at the International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center (CIMMYT), enabled her to conduct research on smallholder agriculture in the Mexican central highlands. Fieldwork focussed on the significance of indigenous soil and water principles for smallholder crop adoption. Her research interests include sustainable food security strategies, indigenous agriculture, gender issues in agrarian change, river basin development, and political ecology. She has authored several articles on her research.

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Carney, J. Indigenous soil and water management in Senegambian rice farming systems. Agric Hum Values 8, 37–48 (1991).

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  • Ecological Factor
  • Agricultural Economic
  • Labor Demand
  • Food Price
  • Price Policy