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«Dispute or Residing Together in Harmony? Bean Cultivation and Theft in Rural Ethiopia Tesfanesh Zekiwos Gichamo Uppsala 2011 EX0681 Master Thesis 30 ...»

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‘‘ I did not participate in the formulation of the by-laws, but my husband participated in the men’s Iddir... and he told me that there is punishment, 200 Birr, if someone does not act according to the by-laws’’ (Source: Key informant interview, Beseku Ilala Peasant association, Feb 2009) Another point is that women are the ones who are supposed to prepare meal for the family. They stated that they were selling large amounts of wheat and maize to buy small amount of beans at a high price. Bean flour is vital to cook sauce to eat with Enjera (Ethiopian food). If they do not have enough amounts of crops to sell in the market, they will not get bean. Moreover, most women indicated that they did not have equal decision-making power as men as to whether or not they should grow bean. As they stated men are the ones who decide most of the time. In one key informant interview a widow mentioned that she divided a large part of the family 29 land to her sons and she remained with small portion of land which is not enough to cultivate bean and other crops.

In one of the study areas called Boye, farmers were growing beans. The findings showed that these farmers live close to their farms. Villagization which were government resettlement policy had not been implemented in their Gote. As they stated it was possible to guard their farms because their farms were near to their home. Moreover, all women and men participated in the formulation of the by-laws through Iddir. On top of this, unlike the Shibeshi Gasha 1and Shibeshi Gasha 2 Gotes, they were from the same ethnic group who were living in this area. Another point that participants raised during the focus group discussion was that they had good consultations amongst themselves concerning bean theft and reintroduction of

bean. One participant in women focus group discussion stated that:

„„In our area, we formulated the by-laws through Iddir to reintroduce bean cultivation. Parents controlled and gave advice to their children. We have cultivated bean for the last two years. In this Gote we have unity, there are no thieves among us and all want to work hard. We agreed with each other and have common understanding. We agreed not to hide thieves. We expose thieves if we find them in our village farm’’.

(Source: Women focus group discussion, Beseku Ilala Peasant association, Feb 2009) However, in Shibeshi Gasha 1 and Shibeshi Gasha 2 Gotes, villagization, fear of conflict, land shortage, poverty and women‟s lack of participation in the formulation of the by-laws were the main factors which affected the adoption of bean cultivation. Out of 34 interviewees, 76 % of the respondents claimed villagization as the main reason for not growing bean in the area. 44% of respondents suggested that fear of conflict between families, neighbours and different tribes as another factor. This included not exposing thieves due to fear of revenge in the future. In addition, 32%, 26% and 17% of the respondents pointed out that land shortage, poverty and women‟s absence in the formulation of by-law respectively as additional factors that hindered the growing of bean in these Gotes.

–  –  –

Respondents pointed out that they used to grow bean before they moved to other area by Villagization in Derge Regime. Almost all respondents mentioned that Villagization was a major factor that exacerbated the problem of bean theft. One

interviewee stated that:

‘‘Before we came to this area we used to grow bean in our farm. But now we are not growing because our farm is far away from our home. This made difficult to guard our bean field. We came here due to villagization which was part of former government land reform…… I cultivated bean on my land, but thieves stole from my bean farm. Thanks to God, I harvested the remaining and got four quintal from ¼ hectare land. I sold two quintal and kept two of them … I do not think I am going to cultivate maize either.

Because, when I go to guard my maize farm who will guard my home? You do not know when thieves steal maize…’’ (Source: Individual interview, Beseku Ilala Peasant association, Feb 2009)

A respondent in individual interview stated that:

‘‘In this area few farmers who have their land near to their home grow beans but not us...Our farm is far away from our home, it is not possible to guard our farm all the time. Thieves may steal day or night’’ (Source: Individual interview, Beseku Ilala Peasant association, Feb 2009) 31

Another respondent on individual interview stated that:

‘‘.... all people came by villagization... our farm is far away from our home, another thing is there is market nearby our farm so it is possible to sell stolen beans more easily compared to other areas’’ (Source: Individual interview, Beseku Ilala Peasant association, Feb 2009)

Similarly, a respondent on individual interview stated that:

‘‘... there are only four or five farmers that have started growing Faba bean.... Their farm is close to their home; they managed to guard their farm.

But other farmers whose farms are far away did not cultivate beans because it is difficult to guard day and night. I also did not grow as my farm is far away from my home’’ (Source: Individual interview, Beseku Ilala Peasant association, Feb 2009) Respondents also stated that maize is the staple food crop for the area; however, maize has also not been spared from theft. Maize theft is a recent phenomenon in the area. Farmers indicated that weak law enforcement is leading to another problem like maize theft.

The issue of conflict rose as another factor hindering the growing of Faba bean.

Farmers said that there is fear of conflict between neighbours, different tribes, and even between families and relatives especially when confronting the thieves. One

respondent indicated that:

‘‘Most people do nothing when they see thief while stealing, they do not want to quarrel with the person who is stealing. This is fear of creating enemy in the future. They think that the thief will come to steal from their farm in the future as revenge. So they prefer not to say anything’’ (Source: Individual interview, Beseku Ilala Peasant association, Feb 2009) One special feature of the area compared to other nearby Gote is the mix of ethnic tribes living in the area. Some respondents explained that they do not have unity and trust like other Gote. When asked „why?‟ the answer was „„we are mixed

tribes‟‟. One key informant interviewee stated that:

–  –  –

However, one could see different opinions and thoughts about this issue. In focus group discussions, some participants indicated that there are thieves in both tribes.

The problem was that they do not expose thieves. If they do, thieves will take revenge on them in the future. Respondents put this idea as „buying enemy‟ and creating conflict. As a result, they prefer not to expose thieves.

„„… You can find thieves in both tribes. We do not support thieves. All dislike thieves. We have the same Iddir. We are eating together. We became relatives through marriage. There are mixed women and men Iddirs. We formulated the by-law together. We grew up together in this area. However, there are people who support thieves … It is not possible to say there is no thief. There are people who cover thieves, who do not expose thieves. There are families who do not control their children. … There are families who support thieves. There are criminals… From both sides you can find thieves … ‟‟ (Source: Men Focus group discussion, Beseku Peasant association, Feb 2009) One key informant said ‘‘In this Gote people do not expose thieves because thieves will take revenge in the future. Government law is weak, and police release thieves without punishment. So it is better to keep quiet… if I look someone while stealing bean I prefer to pretend as if I am passing by without looking him/her’’ (Source: key informant interview, Beseku Peasant association, Feb 2009)

–  –  –

‘‘the government has to work on this issue, laws should be strong...

government has to take strong action to punish thieves’’ ‘‘... there should be strong government laws that discourage thieves, it seems the laws are weak are on the side of thieves’’ (Source: Women Focus group discussion, Beseku Peasant association, Feb 2009) A key informant said:‘Government laws are not strong. Police do not punish thieves under 18 years old. Police release them without punishment.... this is exacerbating the problem’’ (Source: key informant interview, Beseku Peasant association, Feb 2009) Most respondents stated that government law should be strong enough to punish and discourage thieves so they could cultivate beans.

The issue of trust and unity among the residents rose repeatedly during interview and focus group discussion.

An individual interviewee stated:‘in this area people do not trust each other, so we do not grow faba beans’’ (Source: key informant interview, Beseku Peasant association, Feb 2009) Another point that arose in discussions and interviews was that men were afraid to catch women when they found women while stealing from their farm. This is because women will shout and allege it as an attempt to rape. What the men do is they leave them (the women) in their farm. This might lead to conflict between the owner of the farm and the husband of the lady.

As some respondents mentioned that the thieves were often identifiable and they usually were someone‟s children from the area. Almost all respondents agreed that thieves are insiders from this area. Some respondent said some parents do not give advice to their children and they do not punish them. It is as if they are protecting their children and denying that their children are thieves. Covering their children‟s 34 fault is regarded as encouraging theft in the area. Even respondents had mentioned some proverbs that reflected this lack of parental guidance in the upbringing of

their children:

‘If you punished me while I was stealing small thing I would have not stolen big things’.

One additional factor, which was seen as a problem, is the lack of discussion among neighbours to cultivate beans at the same time. Respondents stated that formulating the by-law is not enough. According to them, there should be a wide range discussion among people in the area. Respondents suggested that lack of discussions and unity is escalating the problem.

Most people in this area were dependent on livestock production for their livelihood but with time this has changed due to population pressure. During

individual interviews one respondent explained it as follow:

‘‘In the past people did not have farms... There was grass everywhere.

People had many cattle. They could get enough milk and butter. They had oxen which were good for meat. There was less population. No agricultural technology. You could get enough milk, butter and honey … now people have cultivated the land, all grazing land is converted into agricultural land. There are no enough cattle, and as a result people cannot get enough milk and butter’’.

(Source: Individual interview, Beseku Ilala Peasant association, Feb 2009) Through time they started mixed agriculture, both crop production and livestock production. In order to expand cropland people cleared forested land. As respondents said that as the number of population increased from day to day, the land holding became small. Most farmers mentioned that they have less than one hectare land. When children are grown up, their parents divide the land among them especially for boys. This continues through generations.


A respondent on individual interview noted that:

‘‘Special feature of this area is there is shortage of land. The Land is not enough for all people. In addition to this, some people do not want to work. As a result there are unemployed youth who are engaged in a bad practice like theft’’ (Source: Individual interview, Beseku Ilala Peasant association, Feb 2009) Migration from other areas in search of land is also another factor for increased number of population and small land holdings in the area. Some respondents indicated that they moved from northern part of Ethiopia. Some people pointed out that they have an interest to grow Faba bean, but due to small land holding, they are not growing it. They mentioned that they prefer to grow maize, the staple food or wheat rather than growing Faba bean.

36 This chapter attempts to discuss the findings which are presented in previous chapters and seeks to answer the research questions; 1. What are people‟s perceptions and attitudes toward bean theft? 2. What are the factors that affect adoption of bean reintroduction in the study area?

People‟s perceptions and attitudes toward theft and the amount that they steal determine how the problem is perceived. This study shows that taking small amount of bean from someone‟s bean field to taste or quench lust was not regarded as theft in the past. Rather, it was considered sharing with those who did not grow bean. There is a locally acknowledged proverb which supports bean sharing, „When you come across a bean field or a beautiful woman you cannot pass by without enjoying’. The literal meaning by the local language is „„ቆንጆና እሸት ታይቶ አይታለፍም‟‟. Sharing a reasonable „snack tasting‟ amount of bean is socially acceptable habit. But now it is beyond tasting. People are poaching bean not only to quench their desire but also to sell in the market. Through time, it became a way of gaining benefit at the expense of the farmers who are growing bean. Many respondents disagree with this behaviour that has moved beyond tasting.

This finding is similar with the Blurton Jones (1987), Bliege Bird and W.Bird (1997) and Hawkes (1993) work on tolerated theft which is food sharing. They had found out that successful foragers share with unsuccessful foragers based on their consumption which follows diminishing marginal return curve. So, the cost of not sharing should be higher than sharing to others. The assumption of diminishing marginal return curve is consumption of additional amount of hunted animal gives less benefit or satisfaction compared to the initial amount to successful foragers.

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