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History and necessity: the evolution of soil conservation technology in a Jamaican farming system

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The soil conservation campaigns that have been a prominent feature of Jamaican agricultural policy since the 1950s are frequently presented as having failed to ameliorate the problem of soil erosion in hillside agriculture. A case study of a small farming community in the Blue Mountains explores the development of the soil conservation practices currently employed by farmers. The use of trash barriers in carrot farming is described and the origins of this technology and its subsequent adaptation are considered. The study concludes that extension interventions and government policy have influenced the development of current soil conservation practices; practices which have their roots in indigenous techniques. Other factors such as the adaptation of trash barriers to suit local conditions and their importance in soil fertility management also play a role in their widespread use in the study area. The study demonstrates that to understand the process of technical change in farming communities, it is necessary to consider a range of factors, external and internal, technical and social, that have over time influenced farmers’ decision making.

Keywords: Blue Mountains; Jamaica; multiple source model of technology development; soil conservation; soil erosion; technology adaptation

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: Department of Geography, Royal Holloway College, University of London

Publication date: March 1, 2002


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