Vincent Battesti -
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Agriculture in Siwa

An oasis is the close interdependence of two areas: the developed site of the village or town and the irrigated areas, which often take the form of a palm grove, sometimes an olive grove.The palm grove is a typical example of such an anthropized an artificial nature, where the physical environment, the ecological processes and the human activities have obvious interactions.
The oasis is the archetype of the environments subject to strong constraints, ecological and anthropogenic: the agriculture is the form of the relationship between the local society and its environment.

Siwa Pure Natural Water

- Section to be completed soon to reflect my work in this area. 

Curiously, this is the chapter Agriculture the least extensive here, on which I have also the least published while it is central to my concerns and to my fieldwork.

This should be the central theme of a forthcoming book on Siwa.It will therefore address this oasian agriculture, particular in itself and in Siwa yet distinctive and departing with my observations elsewhere.To say it fast here, Siwa is an oasis that does no lack of water (for the moment), which, conversely, suffers from “sinking” under (used) water from the drainage.The croplands are still growing, under the incentive action of the State.Siwa is a rare example of oasis with a sedentary population and a so poorly intensive agriculture.The ration cultivated area/population (more relevant than average garden area, since here many people have several gardens) is quite high: so, the agricultural strategies can be understood only at the scale of the whole land assets of the farmer or better yet of the farmer’s family.

In Siwa, the passion for collection of clones of date palms (Phoenix dactylifera) are fairly modest but exist.The study of the agrobiodiversity of the date palm in Siwa is in progress (I collected many samples), but already, I must take into account a biodiversity that goes beyond the strict cultivated: the “cloned” cultivated palm (vegetative reproduction) here seems to coexist with strains of small populations of cultivated date palms (non “clones”) and with feral date palm (escaped from cultivation, become wild).We have both the evidence of a process (never ended by nature) of plants domestication and, at the same time, evidence of former cultivated trace (sample from areas nearby Siwa, abandoned oasis for centuries or even since Antiquity).

In short, this study is a work in progress.


Agrobiodiversity in Siwa oasis

Saturday 3 June 2006 - Vincent Battesti

There are several ways to focus on the biodiversity of a place and I’ve tried several in this fieldwork of Siwa oasis.
The first is to identify all species cultivated in the irrigated cropland of Siwa. The classification used by the local community to order this diversity can be also interesting,
The second is to take an interest in all these non cultivated plants like weeds, for example, and especially those recognized and named by the local population and often used; o take an interest (...)

vbat - anthropoasis - - Vincent Battesti