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Cotton policies in Central Africa and farmers' adaptive strategies : How to assist them this process?

Mbétid-Bessane E., Havard M.. 2009. Life Sciences International Journal (1) : p. 100-111. International Cotton Conference on "Rationales and Evolution of Cotton Policies", 2008-05-13/2008-05-17, Montpellier (France).

In the savannahs of Central Africa, the cultivation of cotton, a strategically important crop in the national economy and in the income of producers, and inseparable from State control through cotton companies, is in crisis. This communication is based on the evolution of cotton policies, adaptive strategies and the assistance of farmers in this crisis. It focuses on studies on family farms and strategies of producers, and also on support-advice activities carried out in cotton zones of Cameroon, Chad and Central African Republic between 2000 and 2007 under the framework of the regional pole of applied research for the development of Central African savannahs. The important financial deficits brought about by the dysfunction of the system in place and in the drop in cotton prices have led to an ongoing restructuring process of the sectors with the view of a subsequent disengagement of the State and the promotion of professional organisations. In this difficult financial context, the cotton surface areas globally reduce and farmers develop reconstruction strategies of their activities, being either the increase or the abandonment of the cultivation of cotton in the cropping plan. These defensive strategies have a social cost that farmers are trying to minimise by developing offensive strategies based on group solidarity, but their scope of action is restricted. The future of their farms depends on their degree of cotton dependency and on their capacities to diversify their activities and income. In this period of uncertainty, changes in farms must be accompanied and support must be provided to farmers' organisations: financial measures and capacity building of producers. (Résumé d'auteur)

Mots-clés : politique agricole; association d'agriculteurs; exploitation agricole familiale; situation agricole; coton; cameroun; tchad; république centrafricaine; afrique centrale; stratégie paysanne

Thématique : Economie et politique agricoles; Economie de la production

Article de revue