Coffee, the environment, and sustainable agriculture (fwd)

Carriecg Carriecg at aol.com
Fri Jan 9 12:43:16 EST 1998


Both on a national and local scale African nations have been coping with the
role of the cash economy (ie export production) with a domestic market and
food adequacy.  Although this is gradually changing, the national governments
have mostly encouraged cash cropping as they are desparate for revenues.  The
rural populations are struggling to meet subsistence.

Among small-scale African farmers the intercropping of cash crops (ie coffee,
cocoa, peanuts) with food crops has predominantly been the only way to meet
subsistence.  
The Meru people, who live in the mountains in Tanzania, have successfully
integrated the cash economy into their "traditional village society" by
planting coffee with bananas; a practice which reduces the pressures on the
soil often induced by intense or poorly managed cash cropping. They also avoid
a "hungry season" by doing multiple plantings
of food crops just below the fertile belt where the coffee and bananas grow.

Almost every African farmer grows some sort of cash crop.  Yet, there is a
tremendous margin of success and failure among small scale farmers.  
  In particular, the traditional village social and religious systems are
continuing to deteriorate as the cash economy spreads Western consumerism and
forces to young into migratory wage labor.  The pressures of the cash economy
have caused most African farmers to abandon their more sustainable and
traditional crops and techniques.
Polycropping, terrace farming, natural fertilizing, agroforestry, spatial
arragements, and raised beds has become less predominant in various African
agricultural systems
Permaculture is a part of the traditions of African agriculture. 
I am particularly interested in permaculture's role in food adequacy, local
and national economics, and the local cultural implications of these issues.
Any imput and discussion is welcome.

-Carrie Colello-Gleason



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