Agricultural Intensification and the Decline of Pastoralism: A Case Study from Kenya

This article examines agricultural intensification and the decline of pastoralism in Kuria District, Kenya, concentrating on the period 1975-1995. It argues that this process should not be taken as self-evident, with a decline in stockholding seen as consequent simply upon the relative rewards of agriculture, population increase and environmental depletion. On the contrary, such a view ignores the fact that cattle were the first sector of the traditional agropastoralist societies of Kenya to become commercialized and, in the process, criminalized. Historically, cattle-raiding heroes soon became feared stock thieves, and it is this process which is essential to understanding the eventual decline of the pastoral sector and also to emerging patterns of inequality. The argument is based on a longitudinal study, with survey data collected from the same eighty-six homesteads in 1985 and 1995. Both surveys were designed to assess the effects of tobacco growing on emerging patterns of socioeconomic stratification. The article shows that over the ten years there has been a 50 percent decrease in cattle ownership. Agricultural intensification has been accompanied by an upsurge in cattle raiding and this has led to the decline of stock, as people divest themselves of cattle to forestall the depredations of raiders. Bibliogr., notes. ref., sum. in English and French.

Title: Agricultural Intensification and the Decline of Pastoralism: A Case Study from Kenya
Author: Heald, Scott
Year: 1999
Periodical: Africa: Journal of the International African Institute
Volume: 69
Issue: 2
Pages: 213-237
Language: English
Geographic term: Kenya
External link: https://www.jstor.org/stable/1161023
Abstract: This article examines agricultural intensification and the decline of pastoralism in Kuria District, Kenya, concentrating on the period 1975-1995. It argues that this process should not be taken as self-evident, with a decline in stockholding seen as consequent simply upon the relative rewards of agriculture, population increase and environmental depletion. On the contrary, such a view ignores the fact that cattle were the first sector of the traditional agropastoralist societies of Kenya to become commercialized and, in the process, criminalized. Historically, cattle-raiding heroes soon became feared stock thieves, and it is this process which is essential to understanding the eventual decline of the pastoral sector and also to emerging patterns of inequality. The argument is based on a longitudinal study, with survey data collected from the same eighty-six homesteads in 1985 and 1995. Both surveys were designed to assess the effects of tobacco growing on emerging patterns of socioeconomic stratification. The article shows that over the ten years there has been a 50 percent decrease in cattle ownership. Agricultural intensification has been accompanied by an upsurge in cattle raiding and this has led to the decline of stock, as people divest themselves of cattle to forestall the depredations of raiders. Bibliogr., notes. ref., sum. in English and French.