Population Growth and Agricultural Change in Africa

By B. L. Turner; Goran Hyden et al. | Go to book overview

10 / Agricultural Stagnation and Economic Diversification: Awka-Nnewi Region, Nigeria, 1930-1980

Francis C. Okafor

Where the quantity and quality of land are wanting in agrarian societies, the physiological requirements of the populace may not be met, and environmental and economic disequilibria of varying dimensions may occur as demand for agricultural products increases. In wealthy communities, this disequilibrium can be countered by the use of a wide array of technologies that counteract environmental degradation. In poor communities such as exist throughout most of sub-Saharan Africa, farmers must make adjustments with far fewer technological options, particularly those that require capital outlay, and, therefore, may reach beyond the agricultural sector for livelihood options.

The agricultural situation throughout most of southeastern Nigeria exemplifies the latter case. Growing populations have given rise to very high population densities of farmers who attempt to meet their needs within a relatively poor physical environment for intensive agriculture. Their agricultural adjustments in this situation heavily rely on traditional technologies and procedures that have intensified cultivation on decreasing land holdings and on diversification of income from nonfarm activities.

Despite the knowledge that concentrated populations supported by comparatively intensive cultivation have had a long history in southeastern Nigeria, few records exist with which to detail the dynamics of population-agriculture relationships. This study focuses on the AwkaNnewi region for the time period 1930 to 1980. The primary source of data is a detailed field survey of thirty-six villages in eight Local Government Areas (LGAS) carried out initially in 1976-77 and updated in 1982. Questionnaires were administered to a sample of heads of farming

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