Critical knowledge differences and adaptation to shifting resource constraints: Evidence from Shinyanga District, Tanzania

Jules R. Siedenburg (Lead Author)

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)


In the ‘low potential’ agricultural areas that predominate in Sub-Saharan Africa, globalisation has brought destabilising influences and few advantageous opportunities. These changes have placed increased pressure on rural lands, raising the question of whether local people adapt successfully via modified land use strategies. ‘Sustainable agriculture’ technologies involving agroforestry or soil and water conservation represent an obvious means of adaptation to change in low-potential areas, where purchased agricultural inputs are often inaccessible. Yet despite the promise these technologies have shown in farm trials, their adoption by farmers has generally been hesitant and limited. This has been widely interpreted as evidence that these technologies do not respond effectively to beneficiaries' needs.

Based on a household survey from Shinyanga District, Tanzania, the paper revisits the issues of adaptation to changing circumstances and technology adoption. It considers the possibility that some households adapt to change more effectively than others, adopting advantageous, accessible technologies while others neglect them. Its focus is on the knowledge and perceptions informing tree management decisions, which are elucidated via qualitative and statistical data. The paper reports major knowledge differences among households, and suggests a linkage to observed differences in tree management strategy.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)57-65
Number of pages9
JournalDanish Journal of Geography
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2005


  • Peasant farming
  • rural livelihoods
  • low-potential’ lands
  • environmental degradation
  • agroforestry
  • technology adoption
  • local knowledge

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