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Title: The Management of Wild Yam Tubers by the Baka Pygmies in Southern Cameroon
Authors: DOUNIAS, Edmond
Keywords: Wild yams
South Cameroon forest
Resource management
Issue Date: Mar-2001
Publisher: The Center for African Area Studies, Kyoto University
Journal title: African Study Monographs. Supplementary Issue.
Volume: 26
Start page: 135
End page: 156
Abstract: Wild yams (Dioscorea spp.) are primordial sources of carbohydrates for many hunter-gatherers of African forests. Yams play a key role in the symbolic perception of the forest by the Baka Pygmies of Southern Cameroon. The Baka have elaborated an original form of wild yam exploitation that I have termed "paracultivation". Paracultivation defines a set of technical, social and cultural practices aiming at managing wild resources while keeping them in their natural environment. In 1994, I undertook an experimental survey to estimate the effect of paracultivation on survival and growth of yam plants. Preliminary results presented here demonstrate that paracultivation increases the production of tubers without affecting plant survivorship. Furthermore, it allows a better control of the spatial and temporal availability of yam resources by the Baka. This study has opened up new perspectives on the evolutionary ecology of tuber-producing tropical forest plants. Paracultivation encourages us to reconsider the interactive process between forest dwellers and their environment.
DOI: 10.14989/68403
Appears in Collections:26 (African Hunter-Gatherers : Persisting Cultures and Contemporary Problems)

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