Torgeir Fyhri 1998

The Gambia: 
The Complexity of Modernising the Agricultural Sector in Africa

Chapter 3: Theoretical Framework

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CHAPTER 3: Theoretical Framework
3.1 Man-land and the geographic discipline
   3.1.1 Natural resources and dynamism
   3.1.2 Farm risk and
social sustainability
3.2 Commercialisation, modernisation and development
   3.2.1 Theories on population growth and agricultural
   3.2.2 Critics of development theories
   3.2.3 The "traps" of singularity and generalisation


CHAPTER 1: Introduction
CHAPTER 2: Methodical Considerations
CHAPTER 3: Theoretical Framework
CHAPTER 4: Introducing The Gambian Agricultural Sector
CHAPTER5: The Development of the Agriculture Sector 1983-96
CHAPTER 6: Responses to household Constraints and Farm Risk
CHAPTER 7: Testing of hypotheses and Theoretical Discussion
CHAPTER 8: Concluding Remarks
APPENDIX - Interviews conducted in villages around Farafenni


Vertical connections exist between man-land in Gambian rural areas. The farmers are mainly subsistence farmers, whose yields are very much determined by non-controllable factors such as vulnerable soils and varying precipitation. Contrary, at a national level, The Gambia is a part of the international market of agricultural products. The Gambia is horizontally connected to other regions and countries. At a national level, institutional and economic mechanisms are imperfect in coping with the risk and uncertainty of subsistence farming. At the same time, a vertically connected farm sector is seemingly unable to serve the national demands of export incomes and self-sufficiency on food.

The issue includes both natural and social variables. Conducting a study with this issue is, as discussed in the former chapter, problematic without bridging these normally divided scientifically disciplines. Therefore, theories with the background from man-land studies will be presented and discussed in this chapter to provide a theoretical setting for the further discussion and analysis.

According to Gleave (1992), Sub-Saharan Africa has as a result of the colonial years been opened for modernisation. This process has created a duality between subsistence and commercial, small scale- and large-scale activities and risks minimising and profit maximisation. Countries on the sub-continent are externally oriented, while the foundation in which the economy is based is weak (Hyden 1988). Changes in world market prices on staples, which are important export products, affect the national economy. In turn, fluctuations in farm gate prices on cash crops such as groundnuts in The Gambia create uncertain conditions on a farm level.

The main feature of this chapter, as the main theoretical foundation of this thesis, is the discussion of how farmers respond to uncertain external conditions influencing farming such as agricultural policy efforts. Sub-chapter 3.1 is consecrated this topic discussing theories of man-land connections, natural resources and farm risk. Sub-chapter 3.2 is consecrated modernisation strategies describing and discussing theories of the topic modernisation, development and agricultural growth.

3.1 Man-land and the geographic discipline

"Where ends the natural sphere and where begins the social sphere?" The problem has been an object of academic discussion within the geographic discipline. For decades there has been a dividing line between natural and social science within the discipline. According to Massey (1984), the world is neither totally "social" nor totally "natural". Mabogunje (198?) claims that the primary concern in geography is the study of earth as the home of man. Therefore, bridging the division between social and natural science has outstanding traditions in the academic discipline of geography (Holt-Jensen 1996). Other geographers as Johnsen (1985,1986) claim however, the impossibility of integrating both natural and social science: There are two separate disciplines with different problem formulations and different scientifically methods. Hence, at an individual scientist level, integration is impossible. According to this point of view, scientists have to choose either a natural or a social scientific viewpoint. His statement would have relevance if no single type of phenomena belongs only to the geographers as claimed by Stokke (1988). However, geographers are the only scientists dealing with space, place and environment, which include both social and natural processes (Holt-Jensen 1991, Massey 1984). This is the basic starting point of geographers and only geographers.

Some sub-disciplines of geography cannot exist without bridging natural and social science. Conducting agricultural geography, represented by Grigg (1993 and 1995), is for instance an impossible task without accounting both social and natural processes. Another sub-discipline dealing with both social and natural processes is resource geography (Mitchell 1995, Gjessing 1993, 94 & 96). The sub-discipline resource geography has developed as a result of both external and internal stress on and within the geographic discipline. Increasing environmental problems and degradation of natural resources as a result of overutilisation on different geographical levels forced scientist to study the problem. The main advantage of geographers to cope with such problems was the experience with man-land studies (Rees 1990).
The topic of research within the sub-discipline resource geography can be divided into four related groups: Firstly, Scarcity problems, which include both baseline scarcity where supplies of natural resources are insufficient to satisfy human basic needs, and economic scarcity where the quantity demanded is higher than that being supplied at the going price. Secondly, risk and uncertainty problems where lack of environmental knowledge is added with largely unquantifiable risks and with highly imperfect institutional and economic mechanisms for dealing with risk. Thirdly, degradation of the resource stocks through overexploitation. Fourthly, welfare distribution problems created by economic and welfare losses resulting from resource problems. (Rees 1990, Stokke 1988).

3.1.1 Natural resources and dynamism

Both ecological factors and the historic development are important features in the agriculture picture visible in The Gambia nowadays. The starting point is Zimmermann's definition of natural resources written already in 1933. The word resource does not refer to thing or substance, but a function (Dery 1996). Zimmermann stresses that natural resources are dynamic due to development in technology and knowledge (Mitchell 1995):

"Before any element can be classified as a resource, two basic preconditions must be satisfied: first, the knowledge and technical skills must exist to allow its extraction and utilisation; and, second, there must be a demand for the materials or services produced. If either of these conditions is not satisfied, then the physical substances remain neutral stuff`." (Rees 1990 pp.12)

Agriculture is at farm level utilisation of natural resources. Eastman (1987) defines agriculture to be both a social, economic and technical activity. According to the social dimension, food and fibres are produced with use and benefit for human beings as the goal. The importance of cost and returns makes agriculture an economic activity. The technical dimension includes elements as land, labour, water, seeds, and mechanic and chemical factors. Grigg (1995) and Maalenku (1993a) define agriculture in a more general manner:

"Agriculture has been described as the purposive raising of livestock and crops for human needs." (Grigg 1995 pp.2)

"These days Agriculture is defined as an applied science which deals with the study and production of crops and animals of value to man." (Maalenku 1993a pp.1)

As we can see human needs make the foundation in Rees´, Maalenku´s and Grigg´s definitions. The development in utilisation of the main natural resource in agriculture, land, will here be discussed in the light of this viewpoint: First, the physical geography of the Gambia explains the geographic distribution of different types of land and quality of soils. Second, the historical, social, political and economic development created the value of the land. Knowledge, technical skills and human needs are factors that change trough time. These factors influence the land utilisation. The land utilisation is therefore dynamic.

Two basic conditions are affected by a dynamic land utilisation: soil fertility and farming strategies. Soil fertility will here be measured as area productivity. Usually there are some limitations on measuring the content of nutrients in the soil as output of yields per ha. Many other factors like use of fertiliser and manure, precipitation, choice of crop and variety in addition to soil fertility will determine the area productivity. However, if take the starting point that soil fertility is not static natural resource, but a dynamic product of both human inputs and nutrients of natural origin, this measure will have meaning in this study (Mitchel 1989, Trolldalen 1984).

The link between farm strategies and the natural resource land is less visible than between land and soil fertility. However, the choice of farm strategies are affected by the dynamic land utilisation as farm strategies are changing due to changing demands, skills and traditions and technological level. Farm strategies do also change as a result of more rapid responses to rapid changing external conditions as e.g. policy efforts and rainfall fluctuations. Changes in farm gate prices of cash crops, changes in prices on inputs as fertiliser and changes in credit policy affect farming, forcing the farmers to respond into new farm strategies.

3.1.2 Farm risk and social sustainability

In rural human societies very close related to the resilience of the ecological systems the social institutions within the society are developed to cope with risk and stress.

"Farm risk is defined as any event, be it environmental or socio-economic, that could make the household's income or crop output fall below a minimum disaster level" (Taal 1989 pp.16)

Environmental sustainability is a presupposition in such subsistence oriented agricultural societies. Very close related to environmental sustainability is social sustainability. According to Mwangi-wa-Githinji & Perrings (1993), social sustainability is the optimal organisation of the social system to secure environmental sustainability and reduce farm risk. These risks do not include climatic dimensions alone, but also price fluctuations and access to markets and food. Therefore, external socio-economic factors as changing agricultural policies affect the farm risk.

The rural household should be seen as rapidly changing units that must adapt to change (Taal 1989). According to Mustapha (1992), the survival strategies at a houshold level are recognised by multiple modes of earning a livelihood:

"... multiple modes of earning a livelihood should primarly be seen as a process of income generation, since poverty, crisis and survival are not absolute terms." (ibid.)

Hence, the farming household diversify their activities when external conditions such as agricultural policies change.

According to Corbett (1988), the farmers tend to respond to changing farm risk in three broad stages: First, by insurance mechanisms as changes in cropping pattern and planting practices, reduced consumption and inter household transfers. Second, by disposal of productive assets as e.g. sale of large livestock, agricultural tools, mortgaging of land or obtaining credit. The last stage includes starvation and migration. The decision of reducing farm risks is usually made at the household level.

In addition, spatial variations affect the responses to farm risk. Decisions on reducing farm risk is very much dependent on the geographic and socio-economic possibilities. Farmers living close to the market in the main city have e.g. better access to off-farm incomes than farmers living in more remote areas (DeCosse 1992).

There exist two approaches to decision-making and responses at a farm level in traditional agricultural societies. In the first, it is assumed that the rural household behave like profit maximising firms. Authors as Young & Burton (1992) maintain that price distortions in developing countries will increase commodity prices and that farmers will respond by in using more input, adapt new technology and increase production. They are thereby sharing the point of view with Boserup (1965 & 1981) in the other approach, as pronounced by Lipton (1968); it is assumed that the rural household acts as a risk minimiser. If one assumes that the rural households behave like profit maximising firms predicted responses on increasing prices on farm inputs would lead to a decrease in demand of those inputs. Further, an increase in output price on farm products is expected to lead to an increase in market supply. Empirical evidence from sub-Saharan Africa shows, however, that such predicted responses are quiet rare (Mwangi-wa-Githinji & Perrings 1993).

Scientists as Lipton (1968 & 1986), argue that the rural household selects the least risky production. In subsistence oriented societies crop failure not only means a downturn in market, but a high probability of famine. Farmers tend to allocate their resources so as to assure survival (Taal 1989):

"Subsistence farmers attempt to reduce their risk by diversifying among several commodities, genetic material and production sites. This significantly reduces the likelihood of a total failure. Thus when climatic conditions turn unfavourable or there is some malady, the family may not eat so well but it will still have something." (Eastman 1987 pp. 3)

Because market and policies change the risk, risk minimising becomes a dynamic process. According to Lipton's point of view, the greater degree of uncertainty about market and environmental conditions, the more conservative choice of crop, investments and technique (Mwangi-wa-Githinji & Perrings 1993). In other words, conservative subsistence choices of production is more social sustainable than modern. While subsistence agricultural production includes shifting cultivation and intercropping adapted to vulnerable climatic conditions, commercial production includes monoculture, which is a risky business (Eastman 1987). According to Hyden (1988), single fixes in technology, monopoly in the institutional arena, and uniformity in values and behaviour is the outcome of monoculture (Hyden 1988).

The responses resulting into concrete farm strategies depends very much on the dominating approach: risk minimising related to subsistence production or profit maximisation related to commercial production (Lipton 1968). The term "dominating" is used, because we cannot imagine a society such as in The Gambia where one of the approaches does not exist. As claimed by Mwangi-wa-Githinji & Perrings (1993), there are little evidence from sub-Saharan countries that the farmers are strictly commercial farmers and thereby following the profit maximisation approach. In the case of The Gambia, the cash crop groundnut is the main crop cultivated. Cash is needed at a farm level for paying taxes, consumer goods, farm inputs or food. However, with the uncertainty related to farming, the selection of a profit maximisation approach tends to be rather risky. Subsistence crops are still produced to secure food availability. Some scientists as Wolpert (1964) and Lipton (1968), claim a third approach related to the risk minimising strategy, but incorporating the cash demand: The farmers are satisfyers or utility optimisers. The largest amount of cash crops possible without increasing risk will be produced. Without paying regard to this in modernising efforts, predicted results will not show (Young & Burton 1992). This point of view will be a theoretical foundation in the further discussion of this topic in this thesis.

3.2 Commercialisation, modernisation and development

Using the term "traditional" contains some fallacies. What is traditional and what is modern. As discussed in the former sub-chapter, farmers in Africa are rapidly responding to external stress, which means that the are changing their scope of production as external factors change. Hinderink & Sterkenburg (1987) associate "traditional" with stagnation. Hansen (1996), claims this use of the term as a "trap". If "traditional" is associated with stagnation how can rapid responses such as risk minimising strategies be associated with the same term. Due to this paradox, the term will be avoided in this thesis.

The term "modernise" can simply be defined: To make suitable for present-day needs (Hornby 1985, Goodall 1987). We should however realise that a small elite of authorities or scientists defines what present-day needs are. When it comes to The Gambia, the national agricultural authorities define present-day needs with the staring point in the national economy. The main aim of the Gambian agricultural authorities is making the agricultural sector commercialised to increase GDP. Besides increasing the national income, a commercialised agricultural sector tends to be easier to control (Eastman 1987). Therefore, in this thesis the term modernise will be used more or less as the process working towards agricultural commercialisation.

Subsistence farming means growing crops and raising cattle mainly for domestic use (Goodall 1987). Commercial agriculture means growing crops and raising animals with the object of selling. If the farmer only sells the incidental surplus of the production, or is forced to sell parts of the yields, he is still according to Hinderink & Sterkenburg (1987), a subsistence farmer. Dividing commercial from subsistence farming has most relevance at a farm level. (ibid.)

Barbier (1987) maintains that distinctions between cash crops and export crops are not clearly defined. They are often used synonymously. However:

"... A cash crop may be sold at home or abroad and may be either a food or non-food commodity, whereas an export crop is a cash crop that is ultimately exported from the country producing it." (Barbier 1987 pp.1)

A food crop is usually defined as a crop domestically produced and consumed (Barbier 1987). In The Gambia, rice and early millet are the main food crops. Groundnut is both the main cash crop and export crop.

Development can, according to sociological science, be defined as planned change (Eastman 1987, Kunnskapsforlagets blå ordbøker 1995). Agricultural development involves planned changes designed to increase production of food and non-food products (Eastman 1987). According to this definition, the development of the agricultural sector of Sub-Saharan Africa, included The Gambia, involves a shift from subsistence to commercial agriculture (Eastman 1987).

However, this definition of development presupposes that: 
i) -the authorities always have a complete survey over the processes that cause change. 
ii) -development is a process that can be predicted without involving any unpredicted factors. 
iii) -anyone but the authorities, as e.g. the farmers can influence the process of development.

A more adequate definition could be development as a process of gradual change (Goodall 1987, Hornby 1985).

However, the viewpoint of development as a planned change has to a high degree influenced the shaping of agricultural strategies in sub-Saharan Africa, especially when it comes to the role of agricultural commercialisation for economic growth.

"It implies an increasing monetarization and market orientation of agricultural production. It affects productivity and growth of output, and it stimulates specialisation and diversification of farming." (Hinderink and Sterkenburg pp.1 1987)

Already commercial agricultural production of both food and cash crops in some Sub-Saharan countries nowadays, becomes replaced by subsistence farming. Hinderink and Sterkenburg (1987) call it an agricultural crisis shown by stagnating overall output, a declining commercial food production, and a decreasing share of exports in world trade.

Hinderink and Sterkenburk classify authors with different view on agricultural commercialisation according to their development thinking. They observe three different major points of view: First, the economic technocratic viewpoint, which follows the green revolution path. Third world countries must copy the economic development of the agricultural sector in western countries. Biological, chemical and mechanical innovations are necessary tools. Commercialisation is associated or sometimes equated with modernisation and development.

The second view puts attention to the individual characteristics of the farmers. Even here, commercialisation is associated with modernisation and development, but here individual behavioural factors are seen as barriers or channels for diffusion.

Thirdly, some authors put agricultural commercialisation in an economical and political context of power relationships at different geographic scales. Third world economies become incorporated into the capitalist world economy through agricultural commercialisation. This incorporation is a dialectic process recognised by development and underdevelopment. Others, like Hyden (1988), claim the role of the colonial and post-colonial in the development process. Agricultural commercialisation is seen as necessary, but inadequate for development. Whiteout any fundamental changes in the politico-economic structure, the commercialisation process increases the country dependency on external demands (Hinderink and Sterkenburg 1987).

In common, all these three points of view have their starting point in the need for modernisation and development at a national level. In practise national demands and national policy efforts has been and is the main focus in theories on agricultural development.

The distinction between this point of view, resulting into national policy strategies, and the perceptions of the farmers, resulting into responses to these policy strategies, will be an issue for further discussion in this thesis.

3.2.1 Theories on population growth and agricultural development

Sub-Saharan Africa has a rapidly increasing population. There are different scientifically viewpoints on how the growth will affect agricultural development:

"Many except that this situation will severely compound the current agricultural crisis; others believe that it will stimulate agricultural growth through the intensification of agriculture, leading to improvements in food availability and to general economic development." (Kates, et. al 1993 pp 1).

Kates, Hyden, and Turner (1993) recognise four different traditions or theoretic schools of expectations of the relationship between population and agricultural growth. The different traditions tend to view the relationship either optimistically or pessimistically. The theories are quiet general and found much of their arguments within the roles played by population pressure and economic development.

Population growth is in a neo-Malthusian outcome, seen as the main obstacle for increasing agriculture yields in developing countries. Because population growth creates greater demands for food, more land have to be taken into agriculture production through expansion of arable land and shortening of fallow (Mortimore, 1993b). Shorter fallow leads to a loss of fertility of cultivated soils, declining crop yields per ha, falling output per man-hour and, in the system as whole a fall in total output.

Linkages between population growth and declining agricultural production according to a "neo-Malthusian" view are (Mortimore 1993b):

i) Population growth leads to increased demand for food.
ii) Increasing demand for food is leading to expanding of cultivated land into more marginal areas and shorter length of fallow.
iii) Expanding of cultivated land into more marginal areas and shorter length of fallow are leading to soil degradation, declining yields per ha and further decline of total output.

The critics of the neo-Malthusian school state that there cannot be established a direct relationship between increasing population density and degradation of land.

A contrary view is the Boserupian. The Boserupians argue that population growth, and greater demand for food, force the farmers to intensify the production through farming implementations or labour intensification:

Labour inputs per hectare increase, not only because cultivation cycles are more frequent, but also because fertilisation, intensive weeding and more husbandries become necessary. (Mortimore 1993b pp. 17)

In turn this leads to diminishing returns and increase in total agriculture output. Therefore, scientists as Boserup and Mortimore are seeing population growth as necessary for agricultural development and modernisation.

Linkages between a growing population density and agricultural production according to a "Boserupian" view are (Mortimore, 1993b):
i) Population growth leads to further demand for food.
ii) Further demand for food is leading to increased labour productivity and different man/land ratio.
iii) Further demand for food and increased labour productivity are leading to adoption/diffusion of yield-enhancing technologies.
iv) Adoption/diffusion of yield-enhancing technologies will lead to improving soil productivity and increasing total output.

However, there are some suppositions in the argumentation of Boserup: There must be a market value on agriculture products, so that higher value market crops can substitute lower value food crops. In addition, there must be a functioning market. Many countries, especially in Sub-Saharan Africa, have a small urban sector and subsistence food production in rural areas. The domestic markets are often too small for commercial food production. Commercial agricultural production then depends on that food surpluses can find external markets. The result is often that increases in agricultural incomes become dependent upon exports of non-food crops. According to Boserup (1981), the country may have the choice between continued subsistence production or exports of one or a few non-food export crops.

Boserup claims that agricultural growth is a spontaneous process in which the farmers respond on market mechanisms. Food aid and surpluses of high technology inputs from developed countries disturbs the market mechanisms for domestic produced crops (Boserup 1981). It is, however, too simple to blame donor agencies for the stagnant agricultural production of Sub-Saharan countries. African agriculture is rather complex, and access to market alone cannot solve the problems.

Lele & Stone (1989) made adjustments of Boserupian theories to be more usable for African conditions. The movement away from traditional area-extensive farming methods is associated in their model with higher levels of technology, labour, and capital investment in land. Boserup views the intensification as a spontaneous move to more frequently cropping of more land, due to population growth. Lele & Stone add another type of intensification more dependent on policy and incentives for a shift to crops of higher value or higher yields, or to more productive land. Further, they maintain that an agricultural intensification does not axiomatically follow from higher population densities or more frequent cropping of land:

"A combination of apparently more fragile African soils, declining rainfall, and historically unprecedented population growth rates in circumstances of unequal political power between the mass of smallholders and the privileged few makes the exclusive dependence on the market for achieving rapid growth in productivity more questionable." (Lele & Stone 1989 pp.5)

However, in common with Boserup, Lele & Stone presuppose the farmers to be profit maximisers.

Two other schools of thoughts have played more concrete roles in the process of agricultural development in sub-Saharan Africa: The neo-Marxists and the neoliberal economists. The neo-Marxists claims that population growth is inadequate for agricultural growth. The neo-Marxist social scientists are seeing, however, the colonial "heritage", the international structures of capitalism, and class-based national politics as a barrier for the individual farmers to develop and intensify their production (Kates et. al. 1993). Influenced by these thoughts have the national authorities of sub-Saharan African countries, implemented policy efforts aiming at reduce the affection of the international economically structures for the individual farmer. In the sevethies, state interference in agricultural policies, such as subsidies and fixed prices, was a common strategy.

In the early-eighties, as a reaction against state interference, supervised by IMF and the World Bank, the neo-liberal viewpoint of privatisation of state enterprise replaced the neo-Marxist ideology in many sub-Saharan countries (Nustad 1997). The neo-liberalists state an optimistic outcome of agricultural production in developing countries. Population growth creates market. In turn, introduction of free markets provides the individual farmer to intensify and specialise production for sale (Kates et. al 1993).

3.2.2 Critics of development theories

According to Hyden (1988), modernisation efforts in Sub-Saharan Africa, as the investigation of monoculture, are results of political domination rather than spontaneous processes among farmers as predicted by Boserup (1965,1981) and Lele & Stone (1989). Seemingly, Hyden argues as a neo-Marxist when he blames the colonial authorities and present western thinking agricultural authorities for what he calls an agricultural crisis in Sub-Saharan Africa. The crisis is a result of stagnancy of food and cash crop production of the sub-continent the last twenty years. However, Hydens aim is introducing a new paradigm in development thinking and donor policies in Sub-Saharan Africa. A new fresh policy action is dependent on focusing on their own human and natural resources instead of copying European, Asian and American process of agricultural development (Hyden 1988). Hyden claims that the crisis is a result of technological arrogance by scientist and donor organisations of developed countries, rather than physical limits. The same scientists (see 3.2) define agriculture development. This kind of development has so far included standardisation and rationalisation, which in turn has led to soil degradation and more vulnerability at a farm level. There has been a lack of attention on the social sustainability. Indigenous forms of agriculture are seen as inadequate, while modernisation of production through introduction of complex technology packages to enhance efficiency is seen as necessary. External forces rather than focus have driven Sub-Saharan agriculture development on internal resources. The agricultural authorities have followed the same path. The reason is obvious, there has been a demand for rapid increases of both food and cash crop production to meet national demands. Hyden argues, however, that there is a demand for redefining development due to failure of growth based agricultural policies. Greater priority to welfare instead of production, diversity as opposed to uniformity, and security as opposed to vulnerability must be given.

However, Hyden (ibid.), tends to fall into the same trap as the scientists and authorities he critic when he treats the African farmer as a victim of agricultural policies. The farmers are no passive respondents, but are rapidly adapting their production to changing external conditions (Taal 1989, Corbett 1988, Lipton 1968 & 1986 and DeCosse 1992). What Hyden (1988) calls an agricultural crisis is found at a national or a regional scale and not at a rural household level as in the case of The Gambia. The farmers do avoid risks through risk coping strategies. Hence, the national agricultural production might be stagnant, but at a household level the farmers are getting cash through additional incomes and food through subsitence production.

Others, as Richards (1983) claims that the literature on the topic shows little understanding of the technical and the biological context in which agricultural production take place:

"Too many political economists, economic historians and human geographers indulge in vague talk about poor productivity and the low level of development of productive forces in African agriculture for want of basic reading in relevant farming system literature." (Richards pp.6 1983)

On the other hand, Richards argue that researchers interested in farming system without taking part in the debate of political economy of agriculture "are guilty of overconcentration on technique."

He concludes:
"...There is much to be gained by both sides in ignoring the boundary between the biological and social sciences in this area." (Richards pp.6 1983)

As the critics above have showed, macrotheories in this field are mainly of normative kinds that are related to different political scientifically schools. In both empirical and theoretical studies in this field the discussion between the different schools tend to be prominent. The neoliberalists are claiming modernisation and development of the agricultural sector as a spontaneous result of liberalisation. The Boserupians are claiming modernisation as a process were the farmers respond to population growth and a functioning market in such way that the agricultural sector spontaneous develop. The neo-Marxists claim state protection of the farmer, while the neo-Malthusian school claims population policies aiming at resource protection as the solution to develop the agricultural sector. The farmers' role as a respondent to a complexity of influencing factors is seemingly neglected in these macrotheories.

Therefore, in this thesis, concrete results of farming strategies caused by the action of the farmers as responses to external influences are main objects of study. By this, attention is put on the macrotheories as normative theorems in the concrete agricultural policies, more than as necessary theoretical foundations to create modernisation strategies.

3.2.3 The "traps" of singularity and generalisation

The uses of macrotheories in specific studies involve some problematic features. Generally processes do not adequately explain what is happening at particular moments or in particular places (Massey 1984). We shall thereby avoid what Holt Jensen (1996) calls the "generalisation trap". General theories in common are only abstractions of reality and can ever be reality. Therefore, basing specific scientifically work on macrotheories always has limitations. Including specificity of the particular moment and the particular place is necessary in explanation of a phenomenon. However, if assumed that nothing is general and every phenomena is unique, then we fall into the "singularity trap" (ibid.).

That no problem is purely special or general is the theoretical hypothesis of this thesis. In this study of agricultural modernisation in The Gambia, complexity of agricultural intensification itself is a study object. Therefore, general theories have to be balanced with more specific findings. Or, in other words:

"While there are many unique cultural, geographic and historical forces which influence the course of Gambian events, there are also some common social and economic forces plus technologies which transcend any particular culture or country." (Eastman, 1987 pp.1)

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