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Farmers’ Perceptions as a Driver of Agricultural Practices: Understanding Soil Fertility Management Practices in Cocoa Agroforestry Systems in Cameroon

Abstract : In Africa, cocoa yields are low, partly due to soil fertility constraints and poor management. While peoples’knowledge, aspirations,and abilities are key factors explaining their behaviour, little is known about the rationales that underpin soil fertility managementpractices (SFMPs) of cocoa farmers. To address this gap, we conducted an exploratory survey in two contrasting regions in Cameroonwhere cocoa is an important crop: the humid forest and the forest-savannah transition zone. Some 30% of farmers in the transition zoneas opposed to 13% in the humid forest expressed concerns about soil fertility. The most relevant soil fertility indicators for farmerswere high cocoa yield, dark soil colour, ease of tillage, and floral composition. To enhance and maintain soil fertility, farmers usedresidues from weeding (100%), planting of trees (42%), mineral fertilisers (33%), compost (16%), and manure (13%). More farmers inthe transition zone than the humid forest implemented SFMPs. Our findings suggest that soil fertility perceptions, access to inputs,local practices, and experience influence farmers’use of SFMPs. The limited use of mineral fertilisers was explained by poor accesswhereas the use of organic fertilisers and tree planting were mostlyconstrained by lack of labour and knowledge. Farmers prioritisedpractices to increase yield and viewed SFMPs to be the least important management practices, although they believe high cocoa yieldis an important indicator of soil fertility. To foster sustainable cocoa intensification, it is necessary to enhance farmers’knowledge onSFMPs, increase access to inputs, and ensure returns on investment while considering farmers’priorities and practices
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Submitted on : Tuesday, February 9, 2021 - 4:08:42 PM
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Urcil Kenfack Essougong, Maja Slingerland, Syndhia Mathé, Wouter Vanhove, Precillia Tata Ngome, et al.. Farmers’ Perceptions as a Driver of Agricultural Practices: Understanding Soil Fertility Management Practices in Cocoa Agroforestry Systems in Cameroon. Human Ecology, Springer Verlag, 2020, 48 (6), pp.709 - 720. ⟨10.1007/s10745-020-00190-0⟩. ⟨hal-03136338⟩

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