Two tropical-forest foraging groups, the Baka of Cameroon and the Penan of Indonesian Borneo, were compared regarding their ethnobotanical knowledge. They had similar numbers of plant names, but the Penan used seven times more binomial names than the Baka. Plant diversity patterns and the total numbers of useful plants were similar among the study sites, and thus cannot explain the difference. There is some evidence that the Baka have been replacing their plant names with borrowed ones of farmer languages, probably reducing the number of binomial names. The two groups exhibited rich knowledge of useful plants, especially for various kinds of tools and light construction. The Baka, however, reported six times more plants for medicinal purposes than the Penan. It is generally considered that a nomadic way of life is relatively free from infectious diseases, but both of the study groups settled several decades ago. The Penan could visit a clinic in a nearby village, while the Baka needed to treat health problems by themselves. At the same time, the Baka had a broad and flexible idea of medicine and they were also less selective in choosing the medicinal plants than the Penan. Furthermore, the medicinal practice of the Baka had a social role. These factors should have contributed in their search for new medicinal plants.
This study examines contractual enforcement in the Bolga basket industry, an export-oriented handicraft industry in northeastern Ghana. Recent consumer preference trends in developed countries, such as appreciation of handicraft and ethical product, have stimulated Bolga basket exports. Wholesale companies and local intermediaries enter into binding contracts on production terms to meet changing demands of quality and quantity in the target markets. To enforce these contracts, intermediaries have developed pseudo-contractual relationships, locally called “contracts,” with basket weavers.
However, a close investigation of these transactions reveals that weavers often fail to keep their advanced agreement (e.g., delivery deadlines). Intermediaries are on the weaker side of the bargain and, being from the same community, cannot resort to sanctions, such as transaction termination, to deter default. Instead, they de-emphasize weavers’ obligations and enter “contracts” with as many weavers as possible to offset the losses from defaulters. To develop long-term relationships, they rearrange the production terms, taking weavers’ diversified livelihood strategies and mindset into account. Furthermore, they repeatedly negotiate with weavers, evoking reciprocal cooperation and/or shared experiences of “working together” for the agreements to be fulfilled.
In conclusion, by defining trust as an expectation of another person’s goodwill under uncertainty, this study argues that the marketing cycle of Bolga baskets functions when intermediaries transform sanction- and obligation-based contractual relationships with companies into relationships of trust with weavers, based on acceptance of uncertainty and risk negotiation.
This paper examines self-sufficiency, in terms of food, of a multi-ethnic agrarian community from the perspective of newly-arrived immigrants in northwestern Zambia. The traditional staple foods in the area are indigenous Kaonde grains, such as sorghum and maize, whereas the Lunda, Luvale, Luchazi and Chokwe immigrants continue to cultivate cassava. Both groups open slash-and-burn fields and maintain a self-sufficient life in the miombo woodland. However, the yields of these grains are vulnerable to changes in rainfall. In addition, unstable subsidy policies and chemical fertilizer supplies from the Zambian government significantly affect maize yields. The Kaonde experience severe hunger during the off-season of their grain stores, whereas the immigrants harvest cassava tubers throughout the year because the tubers store well under the ground. Based on a meal survey, Kaonde households consumed cassava during the off-season. They obtained dried cassava tubers from immigrant households, which they purchased or exchanged for side dishes or labor. This study shows that the indigenous Kaonde people are able to interact with the immigrants in their everyday lives through the exchange of food, especially cassava tubers, and that mutually supportive relationships are being built through the bartering of food and labor.