IDEAS home Printed from https://ideas.repec.org/p/qeh/qehwps/qehwps166.html
   My bibliography  Save this paper

Local Knowledge and Natural Resource Management in a Peasant Farming Community Facing Rapid Change: A Critical Examination

Author

Listed:
  • Jules R Siedenburg

Abstract

Environmental degradation is a major global problem, and addressing it is a key Millennium Development Goal. Its impacts are not just environmental (e.g., species loss), but also economic (e.g., reduced agricultural productivity), with degradation increasingly cited as a key cause of rural poverty in the developing world. The degradation literature typically emphasises common property or 'open access' natural resources, and how perverse incentives or missing institutions lead optimising private actors to degrade them. By contrast, the present paper considers degradation occurring on private farms in peasant communities. This is a critical yet delicate issue, given the poverty of such areas and questions about the role of farmers in either degrading or regenerating rural lands The paper examines natural resource management by peasant farmers in rural Tanzania. Its key concern is how the local knowledge informing farmers' management decisions adapts to challenges associated with environmental degradation and market liberalisation. Given their poverty, this question could have direct implications for the capacity of households to successfully meet their livelihood needs. Based on fresh empirical data, the paper finds that differential farmer knowledge helps explain the large differences in how households and communities respond to the degradation challenge. The implication is that some farmers adapt more effectively to emerging challenges than others, despite all being rational, optimising agents who follow the management strategies they deem best. The paper thus provides a critique of local knowledge, implying that some farmers experience adaptation slippages while others race ahead with effective adaptations. The paper speaks to the chronic poverty that plagues many rural communities in the developing world. Specifically, it helps explain the failure of proven 'sustainable agriculture' technologies to disseminate readily beyond an initial group of early innovators, and suggests a means to help 'scale up' local successes. Its key policy implication is to inform improved capacity building for peasant communities.

Suggested Citation

  • Jules R Siedenburg, "undated". "Local Knowledge and Natural Resource Management in a Peasant Farming Community Facing Rapid Change: A Critical Examination," QEH Working Papers qehwps166, Queen Elizabeth House, University of Oxford.
  • Handle: RePEc:qeh:qehwps:qehwps166
    as

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL: http://www3.qeh.ox.ac.uk/RePEc/qeh/qehwps/qehwps166.pdf
    Download Restriction: no

    References listed on IDEAS

    as
    1. Place, Frank & Otsuka, Keijiro, 2001. "Tenure, Agricultural Investment, and Productivity in the Customary Tenure Sector of Malawi," Economic Development and Cultural Change, University of Chicago Press, vol. 50(1), pages 77-99, October.
    2. Barbier, Bruno, 1998. "Induced innovation and land degradation: Results from a bioeconomic model of a village in West Africa," Agricultural Economics of Agricultural Economists, International Association of Agricultural Economists, vol. 19(1-2), September.
    3. Barbier, Bruno, 1998. "Induced innovation and land degradation: Results from a bioeconomic model of a village in West Africa," Agricultural Economics, Blackwell, vol. 19(1-2), pages 15-25, September.
    4. Antle, John M. & Stoorvogel, Jetse J. & Valdivia, Roberto O., 2006. "Multiple equilibria, soil conservation investments, and the resilience of agricultural systems," Environment and Development Economics, Cambridge University Press, vol. 11(04), pages 477-492, August.
    5. Bevan, David & Collier, Paul & Gunning, Jan Willem, 1990. "Peasants and Governments: An Economic Analysis," OUP Catalogue, Oxford University Press, number 9780198286219.
    6. Dasgupta, Partha, 1996. "The economics of the environment," Environment and Development Economics, Cambridge University Press, vol. 1(04), pages 387-428, October.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

    More about this item

    Statistics

    Access and download statistics

    Corrections

    All material on this site has been provided by the respective publishers and authors. You can help correct errors and omissions. When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:qeh:qehwps:qehwps166. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (IT Support). General contact details of provider: http://edirc.repec.org/data/qehoxuk.html .

    If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

    If CitEc recognized a reference but did not link an item in RePEc to it, you can help with this form .

    If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your RePEc Author Service profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

    Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

    IDEAS is a RePEc service hosted by the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis . RePEc uses bibliographic data supplied by the respective publishers.