«Dispute or Residing Together in Harmony? Bean Cultivation and Theft in Rural Ethiopia Tesfanesh Zekiwos Gichamo Uppsala 2011 EX0681 Master Thesis 30 ...»
Additionally, sharing among foragers regarded as consumption smoothing strategy in order to minimize „unpredictable fluctuations in household food intake‟ (Bliege Bird and W.Bird 1997).
37 Youth unemployment is seen as one of the drivers of bean theft in the area. As pointed by Ashford (2007) the population of Sub-Saharan Africa is very young accounts for 44 % of the total population. In Ethiopia the dependency ratio, the number of population under age 15 and age 65 years in relation to the productivity of age 15-64 ages is 85% (MFED 2007). This indicates a high dependency burden.
The main source of employment is agriculture in the area as most rural Ethiopia (DFID 2004).However, due to migration and high birth rate the land holding is very small. In addition to this, land inheritance happens when the father dies or smaller pieces of land will be distributed among children. Small landholding is unsustainable and often insufficient for a whole family. Moreover, rural formal sector employment is very low to employ excess labourer. There is lack of diversified income sources such as on-farm and off-farm activities in the area.
These could be a contributing factor for youth unemployment.
This finding supported by Shakesheff (2002), Shakesheff has indicated that where there is low employment opportunities, rural people in Herefordshire where forced to crop and wood theft. The main motivation was to meet their family‟s basic necessities. This finding is also in line with the study by Scott (1985); unemployed poor peasants used theft as a means of protest.
Price of bean in the market is high for youth who sell stolen bean. In Ethiopia the current price of bean is approximately 1500 birr per quintal with 15 birr per kg equal to 1.36 US dollar. International Poverty line for absolute poverty set by World Bank is 1 dollar per day. Selling one kg bean means a lot. Modernity and change has its own effect on agriculture. Youth seek non-agricultural jobs and they do not want to partake in agricultural activities. Agriculture is not acceptable way of making a living. Instead, they prefer to migrate to urban areas in search of waged employment. This is similar to internal migration from the northern part of Sweden to urban area in search of opportunities (Sundberg and Ostrom, 1982). I think there is difference in youth and adult upbringing. Youth do not share the same values as their parents. They want an easy life. This shows that there is generation gap and value change.
38 As the study shows that both unemployment and poverty are interconnected.
Unemployment is leading to poverty and poverty is leading to theft. Theft occurs when there is food shortage and unemployment due to increased population. This finding supported by Fafchamps and Minten (2003) that poverty is driver of theft and the rural poor people use theft as risk coping and consumption smoothing strategy. Similarly, the studies by Schechter (2007) and Shakesheff (2002) have shown poverty as a source of theft.
Information sharing concerning bean reintroduction was selective; women did not have access to participate in formulation of the by-laws and getting bean. If you are men, however, you are likely to be informed. The men were the ones who formulated by-laws though the men‟s Iddir. The problem goes back to women participation in important decision-making and access to productive assets (Ellis 2000, p. 234). This shows that the women‟s position is different from men‟s power to decide to stop bean theft and to grow bean. Moreover, men are the ones who decide which crop to grow in home gardens and farm fields. Even in the world politics women are often excluded from decision-making processes that affect their own lives (Peterson and Runyan, 1999).
Peterson and Runyan (1999) indicated that women have unequal decision-making power compared to men in government and international organization. Jackson (1999) indicated that globally men have greater access to resources compared to women. Men have more power to control and invest in different resources and they have decision making power. Similarly, Moser and Young (1981) argued that there is gender difference in resource control and decision making power. Peterson and Runyan (1999) argued that the participation of women in decision making will empower women to „meet their own needs and control their own future‟. A study carried out in West Africa showed that the men are the ones who make the decision to buy agricultural inputs. This is due to the socio- cultural norm that it is not acceptable for women to decide together with men (IFAD 1998).
39 Due to scarce availability and high price of bean in the market, the poor cannot afford to buy it. As a result, the poor were not able to cultivate bean in their farm.
This shows that poor and marginalized group especially women are always vulnerable at risk (Dercon 2006). The only alternative that they have is to sell other crops to buy bean.
People who have money were buying or renting land in other areas where there was bean cultivation. This was an additional expense for them. They could have used the money for other purposes. This indicates that poor people who do not have money to buy or rent land suffer from theft. This is affecting household livelihoods in particular, and food security and rural development in general.
Selling and renting land have also contributed to the current problem. When people sell land they will be landless or have small land. In turn, it leads to poverty and they tend to steal, creating vicious cycle.
However, it is worthwhile to mention that buying and selling land is forbidden by the current Ethiopian government. According to the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia constitution which is adopted on December 1994, land is owned by the state and the people of Ethiopia (FDRE 1995). Tenants have no right to sell, exchange and mortgage their land except what is provided for is the use right. All rural and urban land is under state ownership. The buying and selling land that was pointed out by respondents is contrary to current government land policy.
To be successful in adoption of bean reintroduction you need certain pre conditions namely social cohesion, trust, discussion on the matter of topic and commitment to act according to the by-laws. In addition to this, participation of women in the decision making process has a great role in achieving the intended goal.
Villagization and re-settlement of people were part of land reform proclamation of 1975 during the Derge Regime in Ethiopia (Ofcansky and Berry, 1991). The government used this strategy to promote food security, access to land, access to fertile land, and redistribution of population. Before the downfall of Emperor Haile Selassie, land was owned by land lords. Moreover, in 1974 there was a great famine in the country. To give answer to these questions the new government 40 framed land reform policy in 1975. Article 18 of the 1975 land reform proclamation includes villagization and land settlement. Land settlement is the moving of rural inhabitants from drought prone area to fertile areas as well as the distribution of land to landless peasants.
Although the state had good intentions with villagization, it brought disharmonization. This laid the ground for the current problem in the area. Farmers‟ farms are far away from their homes. This has made it quite difficult to guard their farms, leaving them exposed to animals, birds and thieves. Anyone who passes by can steal bean, because no one is there to guard them. In turn, it brings conflict among people in the area. I think villagization has exacerbated the problem of bean theft.
This finding corresponds to the Ofcansky and Berry (1991) study. They explained how villagization has affected farmers. It has increased the distance between home and farm. Farmers have to travel long distances to reach their farms which is „wasting time and effort‟. The statement „wasting time and effort‟ is likely means just that, Why invest in something that does not pay your effort? By calculating costs and benefits farmers decided whether to grow or not to grow bean. They know how to decide even though they have not gone to school to learn the theory of cost benefit analysis. In the Bible King Solomon states that „„There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under heaven, a time to be born and a time to die, a time to plant and a time to uproot ‟‟ Eccles. 3:1-2 (IBS 1973). This is to say that there is growing and harvesting time and farmers want to harvest what they have grown in their farm.
The study by Steingraber (1987) in the south West Ethiopia supports this finding. It has showed that due to villagization and resettlement, farmers farm were far away from the place where they reside. Moreover, Steingraber (1987) criticized resettlement and villagization program, as it had political motive behind the program.
This study shows that people who are living in the area are not secured due to lack of functional welfare state, which provides social security. It is the same as some low-income countries, which are trapped by bad governance and policies (Collier 2007).
41 Traditionally, the old outweigh local institutions compared to youngsters. Rules, which were conveyed by elders, were respected and accepted by communities in the past. However, new generations do not want to accept traditional laws. They know government rules because of school and they know how to use it. That is why they were released after a few hours or a few days from police station while they were thieves.
According to government laws, if there is no evidence that shows that thieves are guilty, there is no case and therefore no punishment. In order to accuse someone there must be witnesses. If there is no body with you when someone is stealing from your field, you are not able to accuse him, because you cannot be witness as well as accuser at the same time. As the field is away from the living area, it has been hard and impossible to get one as a witness.
Another problem is people do not expose thieves due to fear of future revenge.
This finding is similar with the studies of Aaronbrooks (1986) and Schechter (2007). Aaronbrooks (1986) stated that framers do not take any legal action on crop thieves because thieves could come and take revenge. The study by Schechter (2007) showed that most farmers did not report to polices, due to fear of revenge by the thieves. The worst thing is that thieves might be their own children. How easy it to give your children to police? It takes lot of courage. This might be fear of stigma and fear to be branded as a thieve family.
The population is increasing due to high birth rate. In return, land holding is decreasing through time because of this increasing population. The land holding of most farmers is less than one hectare which was another factor which hindered Faba bean cultivation in the area. As a result, they prefer to grow maize or wheat which is staple crops. Some youth are land less and also they are not engaged on off-farm employment activities for another source of income generation. The study in the same area by Chiwona-Karltun et al (2009) indicated that less availability of land was the factor for crop changing pattern including Faba beans. Similarly, Gebreselassie (2006) stated that most rural Ethiopian farmers are characterized by small land holding. Small land holding leads to shortening of crop rotation, as a result soil quality and soil fertility is decreasing (Gebreselassie 2006).
42 Migration of people in search of land and opportunity has its own contribution to the current problem. Migration, from the northern part of Ethiopia through resettlement program during Derg regime, also has a negative effect on the amount of land holding in the area (Ofcansky and Berry 1991). The indigenous people do not like the new comers because land is a priced commodity and major resource for their livelihood. Migration issues have become a worldwide problem. Study by Ortuno (2005) shows that the influx of high number of migrants to Spain is seen as a great problem. Also a study reveals the refusal of migrants by European Union countries. This is due to European Union countries‟ fear of high unemployment and dissatisfaction among their citizens.
43 This study has shown that bean theft is affecting the livelihood of the people and it is also wide spread practice in the study area. It is leading to food insecurity and has negative effect in rural development of the country in general. In addition to this, different factors, which affected the cultivation of Faba bean, have been found in this study. Moreover, the study dealt with the role of local institutions in rural Ethiopia in affecting agricultural practices and thereby the economic well-being of a family. It tried to address how food security and economic activities can be enhanced by the long-held and respected tacit rules that are overseen by local institutions which hold a decisive position in rural Ethiopia. The followings are
Villagization and land resettlement policies that were framed by government without considering the local situation have escalated the bean theft. Even if land reform, which took place in Derge regime after 1974, had good intentions, it did not consider other factors.
While local institution, which is Iddir, has considerable power, it is being challenged by different factors such as Villagization, fear of conflict, small land holding due to migration and high birth rate. If government works together with these institutions, it may control the problem.
Youth unemployment and poverty are the main push factors to bean theft.
Off-farm employment creation might mitigate bean theft.
Lack of women participation in the formulation of by-laws and decision making had also negative implication in adoption of bean reintroduction.
Bean theft is affecting household livelihood and food security of poor more than rich households Finally, further investigation is needed to assess the perception and role of higher government officials about the bean theft problem. Moreover, the issue of maize theft which was repeatedly raised by respondents needs its own study because maize theft was also affecting farmers‟ livelihood in the locality.