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Farmers accumulation strategies and agroforestry systems intensification: the example of cocoa in the central region of Cameroon over the 1910-2010 period

Pedelahore P.. 2014. AgroForestry Systems, 88 (6) : p. 1157-1166.

DOI: 10.1007/s10457-014-9675-8

Agroforestry is often portrayed as one of the ways towards ecological intensification of agricultural systems. This intensification process allows rural households to sustainably increase cash revenues and capital accumulation capacity. Many research studies have focused on the technical and economic improvement of agroforestry systems (AFS). However, it is equally important to study this the other way around, hence assessing the impact of the strategies and accumulation trajectories of farmers on the intensification of AFS. The present study aims at characterizing the various accumulation strategies of farmers and assessing their relationships with AFS intensification. The study involved semi-structured interviews of 82 cocoa farmers representative of the diversity of cocoa AFS farms in Central Cameroon. The results demonstrate that the successful accumulation strategies are the ones mainly based on the development of activities and revenues of off farm and of urban origin. This capital of urban origin has led to the strong emergence of large farms (from 5 to 30 ha). Due to the influx of financial capital and the adoption of improved agricultural techniques, these large farms achieve cocoa yields much higher (512 kg/ha) than smaller farms (<2 ha, 214 kg/ha) or medium farms (2-5 ha, 338 kg/ha). Nonetheless, the preliminary data collected in the present study indicate that the higher cocoa yields achieved by large farms does not necessarily translate into a sustainable improvement of the overall productivity (i.e. cacao as well as other products originating form AFS) or that of the labor.

Mots-clés : theobroma cacao; agroforesterie; agriculteur; développement économique; intensification; surface d'exploitation; capital; mutation professionnelle; mobilité de la main d'oeuvre; cameroun

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