Shifting Agriculture

  • Colin Clark
  • Margaret Haswell


That care and feeling for the distant past, which have shown themselves in many striking results obtained by Danish archaeologists, led Jørgensen2 to try an experiment reproducing, so far as possible, the conditions under which the pioneers of agriculture in Denmark worked. A group of students volunteered to clear and burn, with primitive tools, the sort of scrubland (lacking heavy tree growth) which is believed to have prevailed in large parts of Denmark at that time. They were forcibly reminded of one drawback with which pioneers of agriculture in hitherto uncultivated areas to-day in Africa and Australia are all too familiar, namely that every bird for miles around considers that these new edible seeds were planted for his benefit. The Danish volunteers put in much time bird-scaring, but nevertheless still obtained a very poor harvest. For clearing the land, with primitive iron tools, it was found that they worked at the rate of 245 man-hours/ha. cleared. Clearing which still leaves the big stumps in the ground3 calls for 37 man-days/ha. cleared (probably only about 200 man-hours, as the working day is short).


Labour Input Subsistence Agriculture Upland Rice Labour Requirement Cocoa Farmer 
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Copyright information

© Colin Clark and Margaret Haswell 1970

Authors and Affiliations

  • Colin Clark
    • 1
  • Margaret Haswell
    • 2
  1. 1.Agricultural Economics Research InstituteOxfordUK
  2. 2.Agricultural Economics InstituteOxfordUK

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