Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Agreculture knoweldge loss



Why are things the way they are? My curious mind is still eager to understand all this better… so the next few entries are what I call: piece of the puzzle, out of different books.  
Out of ‚Agroecology’ – the Science of Sustainable Agriculture. This part is a look back on historical developments on agriculture – and how intertwined our world was already back then…
“It is well documented how the diseases carried by explorers affected native populations. Especially in the New World (Americas), where rapid devastation of populations occurred. As much as 90% of the population of some areas died in less than 100 years. With them died cultures and knowledge system. The grisly effects of epidemics characterized the earlier phases of contact, but other activities, especially slaving for New World plantations, were also to have drastic impact on population and thus on agricultural knowledge until well into the 19th century.
Initially, local population were the focus of slave raids, but these groups were often able to escape from bondage. The disease problems of the New World Indians also made them a less than ideal labor force. African populations, on the other hand, were accustomed to tropical conditions and were relatively resistant to “European” diseases. They could thus satisfy the burgeoning manpower needs of sugar and cotton plantations. Over tow centuries more than 20 million slaves were transported from Africa to various slave plantations in the New world.
Slaving was directed at the best labor force (the adult men and women) and it resulted in the loss of this important labor force for local agriculture and the abandonment of agriculture works as people sought to avoid slavery by moving to areas distant from slavers. The disruption of knowledge systems through the export of labor, the erosion of the cultural basis of local agricultures, and the mortality associated with warfare stimulated by slaving raids was later compounded by the integration of theses residual systems into mercantile and colonial networks”

I am not sure how much the DR Congo was affected by this slave trade. Certainly the Bas-Congo area on the West Coast must have suffered enormous losses. In the east, it is my understanding that the Arabs come to hunt for slaves. To what extent the local population was affected is unknown to me, as of now. Nevertheless, surely the fact that societies here were disrupted, and in parts destroyed, must have had affect on knowledge in general and agricultural knowledge in particular.

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