Indigenous Rituals in Agriculture

SFA researchers from Obafemi Awolowo University and Women Environmental Programme conducted field trials in the Isoya Community, Western Nigeria to explore the use of rituals in agriculture:  the indigenous practice of using dead dogs to control termites in cocoa farmlands.

Cocoa is the leading agricultural export of Nigeria, the country is currently the world’s fourth-largest producer of cocoa, yet termite control becomes the major challenge for the plant cultivation. Though existent agricultural practice provides a range of plant protection solutions, the Nigerian farmers prefer to employ native rituals.

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Various beliefs guide the norm of ritual practice in Nigeria. The tradition of using the dead flesh in agriculture has been restricted in the country, yet farmers claim this method to be the most effective to prevent termites invasion and keep on practising this ritual through the restriction.

For the local farmers, this practice has a dual meaning: rational and spiritual. Rationally, they use decaying flesh to bring ants to the field in order to exterminate termites.  For this, the farmers palm-oil dead dogs and bury animals on every corner of the field. Spiritually, the farmers believe in a mysterious connection between dogs and termites that adds particular significance to the practice.

An interdisciplinary analysis will be conducted on this data during the upcoming Symposium and results will be shared shortly.