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For a summary of Italian schemes of agricultural colonization, see Istituto Agricolo Coloniale, Main Features of Italy's Action in Ethiopia 1936-1941 (Florence, 1946); and Ufficio Studi del MinisteroAfrica Italiana, "La valorizzazione agraria e la colonizzazione," Gli Annali dell'Africa ltaliana 2, 3 (1939), 179-316. For autarky policy, see Giuseppe Tassinari to Mussolini, 23 March 1937, Istituto Agronomico per l'Oltremare (hereafter lAO), fasc. 1990. Italian agricultural policy, if not their implementation, is clearly laid out in articles in the journal L'Agricoltura Coloniale.

Prologue 15 Most important from the perspective of agriculture is what Chambers calls dryseason biases, the tendency of observers in tropical environments to concentrate their movements in dry months of the year. Observers from temperate climates thus often miss the dramatic effects of tropical bimodal seasonality, especially the "hungry season" just prior to the first harvests after the rains. In Ethiopia the effects can be especially serious, since travelers invariably miss the primary sowing seasons of midsummer and, if they joumey between January and May, may entirely miss seeing some crops in the field, or base judgments on the more erratic short rain (be/g) cultivation.

27 The empirical studies of modem agricultural science are particularly important as a means of unwrapping the relationship between human action and the environment. 1bese studies include technical studies which identify the physical properties of plants, soils, agronomy, and climate. Empiricism in agriculture also extends to sutveys of local and regional agricultural production, which provide insights into wider trends beyond the farm level or the individual descriptions of travel accounts. Having a 1937 estimate of national cropping patterns to compare with similar sutveys from 1963 and 1983 helps to establish long-term trends less visible at the local level.

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