Cassava production and processing in a cross-cultural sample of african societies

Behavior Science Research Vol/Iss. 26 (1-4) Sage Published In Pages: 87-119
By Romanoff, Steven, Carter, Simon, Lynam, John


This exploratory study seeks to explain cassava production and processing in Africa by considering cultural, agronomic, and environmental data. After examining the descriptive results of the agricultural and social contexts of cassava use, the authors build upon Boserup's population density model (1965) to analyze their own hypothesized model of cassava's importance among the sampled societies.


Sample Used Coded Data Comment
HRAF Collection of Ethnography (paper/fiche)HRAFAfrican societies - coded variables

Hypotheses (12)

"Cassava reliance, relative to other crops (contribution to the diet and occupation of the land), should increase with population pressure (density adjusted for length of dry season) on agricultural resources)" (p.100).Not Supported
"Cassava will be more important where there are fewer food-getting strategies (less of a mix of subsistence strategies, wage labor, cash crops, government supplies, etc.); in turn food diversity will be positively associated with such cultural ecological variables as markets, access to markets, population density, and more elaborate technology" (p.101).Supported
Societies in the cassava belt of Africa with landholding kinship groups will rely more on cassava than other societies. Proximity to market towns (or transportation) and population pressure will favor the market economy and are inimical to the continuing existence of such societal characteristics (p.102).Supported
"Matrilineality, cassava use, and cassava processing are positively related" (p.104).Supported
"Bantu language and cassava are positively associated" (p.104).Not Supported
Processing technology or effort (as measured by women's food-labor diversity) is a determinant of production levels (importance of cassava in the diet) (p.105).Supported
Toxicity will be associated with levels of cassava consumption (p.105).Not Supported
In the absence of protein complements, farmers will grow less cassava (p.105).Partial
Cassava will be most important in well-watered areas (p.106).Supported
Processing technology will be more highly developed (mechanized) under the same conditions in which agricultural technology is more intense (p.106).Not Supported
"Where women assume an extreme number of arduous agricultural tasks, with less male involvement, they perform fewer processing tasks" (p.107).Marginally significant
Cassava consumption and production will increase when a society is faced with a higher prevalence of food scarcity / hunger (p.94).Supported

Documents and Hypotheses Filed By:matthew.g.roth emily.pitek abbe.mccarter