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Explaining the uncertainty: understanding small-scale farmers’ cultural beliefs and reasoning of drought causes in Gaza Province, Southern Mozambique

Daniela Salite ()
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Daniela Salite: University of Reading

Agriculture and Human Values, 2019, vol. 36, issue 3, No 4, 427-441

Abstract: Abstract This paper explores small-scale farmers’ cultural beliefs about the causes of drought events and the reasoning behind their beliefs. Cultural beliefs vary across countries, regions, communities, and social groups; this paper takes the case of farmers from Gaza Province in southern Mozambique as its focus. Findings show that the farmers have a limited knowledge and understanding of the scientific explanation about drought. Thus, farmers’ beliefs about the causes of drought are strongly based on the indigenous (the power of spirits) and Christian philosophies that attribute drought to supernatural forces, such as ancestors or God, and as a punishment for (some unknown) wrongdoings. Farmers have a distinct and under-explored repertoire of possible wrongdoings to justify the punishments driven by those cultural beliefs. Some of their reasoning is static, while some is mutable, and is based on their observation and perception of the negative, unexpected, or harmful recent or current events which happen in their surrounding environment, and which they believe could be avoided or prevented. Farmers’ beliefs about drought causes, and their underlying reasoning for those beliefs, are what will primarily influence their perception of their own capacity to adapt, their motivation to respond, and their behavioral responses. Yet, their social groups exert a great influence on their choices of response. The paper concludes that more context-specific investigations into the socio-psychological nature of farmers’ beliefs are required prior to interventions in order to better help farmers to respond to future drought risks.

Keywords: Farmers; Drought; Cultural beliefs; God; Ancestors; Punishment (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2019
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DOI: 10.1007/s10460-019-09928-z

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