Dynamics and Diversity: Soil Fertility and Farming Livelihoods in Africa : Case Studies from Ethiopia, Mali, and Zimbabwe

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Ian Scoones
Earthscan, 2001 - Social Science - 244 pages
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The management of Africa's soils is one of the major challenges facing agriculture and livelihoods in the 21st century. Policies to address this tend to assume that soils are being degraded on a large scale, and that farmers' practices often contribute to a 'downward spiral' of degradation and poverty - a familiar narrative of negative environmental change.
But have policies been attuned to local-level understandings of soils and their change? What can we learn from a detailed understanding of the way farmers actually manage their soils and the social and environmental processes that result in their transformation? Is the story of environmental change always so gloomy? What factors encourage more positive trends?
These are just some of the questions addressed in this book. Based on a series of detailed case studies from Ethiopia, Mali and Zimbabwe, it explores the complex dynamics of soil fertility change from an interdisciplinary perspective, looking at the way farmers actually manage their soils and the social and environmental processes that determine their transformation. Through this analysis, Dynamics and Diversity suggests new ways of thinking about agricultural development policy and practice.

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Styles of investigation and sources of evidence
some contrasts and comparisons
new perspectives on soil management

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About the author (2001)

Ian Scoones is a fellow at the Institute of Development Studies at the University of Sussex. He is co-editor (with Chris Reij and Camilla Toulmin) of 'Sustaining the Soil'.

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