The system of land ownership and crop production: the case of Embu North Sub-County, 1890 -1963
Karigi, Geoffrey Njue
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This study focused on the system of land ownership and crop production in Embu North Sub-County from 1890 to 1963. It is an attempt to examine the interplay between the system of land ownership and crop production in Embu North Sub-County. In this endeavor the Embu system of acquiring land and how they produced different crops is explored. This is done in order to illustrate that the interaction between the system of land ownership and crop production has been influencing the overall production in crops since the pre-colonial period leading to social differentiation. The pre-capitalist modes of production influenced the whole production process at the time. Thus, those that acquired and cleared large tracks of land were able to produce more crops for consumption and trade, hence accumulating more wealth. As the society developed, new methods of land ownership and crop production were established leading to more production. The system of land and crop production interacted such that the more an individual acquired land, the greater the production, though in some instances the weather conditions influenced the process. Therefore, though colonialism introduced significant changes in the system leading to varied crop production, the study has shown that the interplay between the systems of land ownership and crop production has contributed to the deviations in the overall crop production in Embu North Sub-County. Colonialism added new class formations of the landed, the land poor and the landless. The landed class was able to fit in the new capitalist system while the land poor and the landless acquired new roles of wage earners. The new capitalist system of acquiring land by use of money and mechanization in production significantly changed the whole process of production. Although the pre-capitalist methods of acquiring land and crop production were subordinated by the capitalist mode, some elements of the pre-capitalist mode survived within the land poor and the landless. These, together with the women, continued to produce through the pre-capitalist mode but sold their produce to the capitalists. To exhaustively analyze the interplay between the system of land ownership and crop production, the study employed the theory of articulation of modes of production in analyzing the data. Both primary and secondary data were sourced. The study employed purposive sampling technique to reach out the informants, who together with the archival records were sourced for primary data. Corroboration was done in the two sources for authenticity and validity. Therefore, the study, guided by specific research questions and objectives, has found out that, the relationship between the system of land ownership and crop production has been impacting on production in crops in Embu North Sub-County since the pre-colonial period leading to social differentiation.