22 Abisi Hoe Agriculture

An Abisi farmer is defined as a hoer : /uyitikap/etikap/ ,the One of the Hoe.

All Abisi tools are individual and require essentially an investment in human energy, except for fire used in preparing fields.

Hoe agriculture is based on human power without the help of animal nor mechanical force.


Tilling the soil is the major task of Abisi farming and it must be done quickly at the beginning of the rainy season.

All the responsibility of this task rests upon men’s shoulders, Abisi women being spared from this harsh work.

A heavy tool (Pict from Piti Land FB page)


Women have many complementary obligations such as weeding, harvesting,transport, winnowing, pounding, and cooking…and use a variety of tools, baskets, and pots.

Technological choices

Hoe agriculture represents some kind of paradox for today’s Abisi Cultural History.

The hoe may appear to be the main determinant of Abisi production capacity.

On the one hand, when hoe agriculture is compared with all the technological innovations that can increase production dramatically, it is regarded as a serious problem of efficiency.

On the other hand, theses innovations cost so much that a local community does not have the means to acquire them. Usually, governments or big businesses get involved and that radically changes the way of life of local people and their autonomy.

In 1973, when I was doing this study about Abisi agriculture, my main concerns was how did Abisi manage their economy without all these new technical innovations?

As will be seen later in detail, Abisi showed that innovation could exist on another plane, the social domain into that they had invested in an original way: producing the productors needed for manual labors by their original marriage system.

Moreover, seen from a more ecological perspective, a view that takes into account the natural component of life like air, water, soils, living organisms etc., Abisi hoe agriculture seems well adapted to their environment.

Other means of production using mechanical forces have been shown to seriously degrade soils in a savanna environment.

Abisi Cultural history will surely be confronted with such calculated risk .


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