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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Peasant Response to Agricultural Innovations: Land Consolidation, Agrarian Diversification and Technical Change. The Case of Bungoma District in Western Kenya, 1954-1960.

  • Author(s): Makana, Nicholas E
  • et al.

The diagnosis of rural poverty in Africa has historically adhered to the cultural barrier hypothesis, which identified social and cultural factors as overriding impediments to the adoption of innovations and the attainment of development objectives. The prevalent orthodoxy has been that the behavior of African peasants is always conditioned by a subsistence ethic that renders such societies impervious to change and innovation. This article utilizes the case example of Bungoma district in Western Kenya to debunk the notion of inherent African peasant conservatism. Employing mainly primary research material, the article argues instead that African rural households do possess the requisite capacity to positively respond to economic incentives with a view to modernizing their agrarian economies.

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