Methodological issues in a study of resource allocation decisions among Embu farmers
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This paper uses an ongoing field research project as a basis for discussing certain methodological issues the author believes merit further attention from both academics and government personnel working in developing countries. The research discussed here is an economic-anthropological study of agricultural production strategies among Embu farmers occupying two adjacent ecological zones. Its purpose is to examine determinants and consequences of resource allocation decisions of individual farm households in a subsistence oriented economy that is in the process of becoming monetized. The study examines how family allocation decisions are made in a context in which goals concerning production to meet subsistence needs often compete or conflict with goals concerning production for cash sale. The research analyzes the complex interplay among ecological, social/cultural, and economic constraints as influences on individual production decisions. Methods used in this study are drawn from the fields of agricultural economics and anthropology. It is argued here that in the past, methods and approaches of the economist and anthropologist to similar problems have been unnecessarily divergent- to the detriment of both disciplines and to the detriment of better understanding of processes of economic development.