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Dutton, Roderic William (1972) Factors controlling wheat productivity in the Lower Medjerda Valley, Tunisia : A study of an agricultural ecosystem. PhD thesis. SOAS University of London. DOI:

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This thesis is concerned with the factors governing the cultivation and productivity of wheat on French farms during the colonial period in Tunisia. Particular attention is given to the development region of the Lower Medjerda Valley (LMV). The thesis begins by setting out the principal hypotheses and discusses the selection of the study area. The importance of the study for Tunisia is made clear in the second chapter which analyses the significance of wheat in the Tunisian diet and economy. The physical features of the LMV and the bearing they have on cereal productivity are then described. The second part of the thesis first establishes the poor condition of agriculture which the French found in Tunisia and then examines the general impact that the French presence made on this low agricultural base and on the people responsible for it. Finally a detailed analysis is made of the effects of French farming techniques on cereal productivity in Tunisia and on the fertility of the land. The last, post-war, phase of colonisation receives particular attention in order to see whether French farming techniques deteriorated under the pressures of independence and impending land nationalisation. The last part of the thesis examines the mechanisms by which different climatic elements can affect yield and suggests an objective basis for defining good and bad climatic years. Bearing in mind the mechanisms involved, a quantitative analysis of the relationship between climate and yield is made, using data from the LMV. The study reveals that although French methods of cultivation did succeed in increasing yields the climate and the soils retained controlling roles. Moreover the fertility of some land was put at risk. Tunisian yields rose on good land but population pressures forced peasants to cultivate and endanger unstable hill soils.

Item Type: Theses (PhD)
SOAS Departments & Centres: SOAS Research Theses > Proquest
DOI (Digital Object Identifier):
Date Deposited: 16 Oct 2018 15:00

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