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Markets, ethnicity and environment in a vulnerable landscape: the case of small-scale vegetable production on the Jos Plateau, Nigeria, 1991–2001

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Abstract:

This paper explores changing socio-environmental interactions in the vegetable producing areas of the Jos Plateau over the decade 1991–2001. It considers the pressures of market forces and ethnic competition and the tensions which arise as interactions between the two are played out in a fragile physical, social and institutional environment. The region has seen a remarkable expansion in irrigated vegetable production, as dry season surveys in 1991 and 2001 attest. Local farmers appear extremely positive in their perceptions of change, pointing not only to expanded production, but also to other improvements, like growing percentages of children in school and improved transport. But behind this rosy view of change there are tensions and a series of unresolved questions which may soon have to be addressed. We examine the changing nature of socio-environmental interactions over the decade and ask whether and how current levels of production can be sustained in the context of a currently largely unregulated production system and growing competition for land. Given the important role of the Plateau as a source of temperate fruit and vegetables in West Africa, these questions have significance far beyond the Plateau region itself.

Keywords: Jos; Nigeria; ethnic competition; irrigated vegetable production; markets

Document Type: Research Article

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/j.0016-7398.2003.00100.x

Affiliations: 1: Department of Anthropology, University of Durham, Durham DH1 3HN, 2: School of Earth Sciences and Geography, Kingston University, Kingston-upon-Thames KT1 2EE, 3: CEEDR, University of Middlesex, London NW4 4BT and 4: University of Jos, Nigeria s: ; f.harris@kingston.ac.uk, Email: r.e.porter@durham.ac.uk

Publication date: December 1, 2003

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