Structured or spontaneous extension of DMC techniques in small-scale cotton-based agriculture? The Northern Cameroon case study

Balarabe Oumarou, Abou Abba Abdoulaye, Olivier Dominique, Naudin Krishna. 2008. Structured or spontaneous extension of DMC techniques in small-scale cotton-based agriculture? The Northern Cameroon case study. In : Investing in Sustainable Agriculture : the case of conservation agriculture and direct seeding mulch-based cropping system : Regional Workshop on Conservation Agricultures, Phonsavan, Laos, 28 October - 1 November 2008. s.l. : s.n., Résumé, pp. 54-55. Regional Workshop on Conservation Agriculture, Phonsavan, Laos, 28 October 2008/1 November 2008.

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Abstract : The northern Cameroon cotton-based region, as well as the whole western and central African cotton belt, is mainly characterised by a cotton-based agricultural extension programme monitored by cotton companies. The names or field approaches of the companies may differ from one country to another, but they still rely on a strong extension team and programme followed up from seedling to harvesting, which give a relatively high performance to the cotton sectors. Cotton extension performances can be appreciated through the large areas covered, a large number of cotton farmers and relatively intensive agricultural practices (high levels of fertilisers and other chemical inputs, high average yield, etc.). The direct seeding mulch-based cropping system (DMC) extension programme began in 2007 as part of the soil conservation project (PCS) following the experimental phase in the Water-Soil-Tree Project (ESA) from 2002 to 2006. As the two soil conservation projects were both monitored by SODECOTON (cotton development company), the newly launched DMC extension programme had to choose between two different extension approaches: a structured extension approach relying on Sodecoton's skilled and experienced extension team, implying a well-defined technical message to be disseminated, and spontaneous extension, relying on the gradual construction of on-farm technical messages, and ongoing processes to adapt the cropping systems, hence little need for a highly-structured extension team but an agriculture-based progressive approach. This study addressed the two options not by giving a final answer as to the most suitable extension approach, but by investigating the advantages and constraints of each approach, along with common determinants for DMC extension programmes, such as seed supplies and community-based experiments, and up-scaling. The study was based on seven years' experience of the DMC testing and extension programme in northern Cameroon, including on-farm trials and spontaneous dissemination, village-based cropping system trials, and three years of a DMC pre-extension programme. According to the study, structured extension may be suitable for the dissemination of simple but definitive cropping systems by a skilled extension team. Consequently, any other improvement within the system may call for high input investment (skills and materials). This may be worthwhile in familiarising farmers with DMC techniques but -55 may limit their adoption of DMC systems, since simple and rigid options may not fulfil their main constraints, such as less fertiliser use, and appropriate weed control. Spontaneous DMC extension relies on continual adaptation of DMC techniques to each given context. This means that various DMC options may be suited to different contexts, excluding a single "able to disseminate" technical message. Therefore, for an extension team, the need for ongoing on-farm construction of technical messages may require new adaptive skills, taking into account each socio-economic and ecological constraint, which are of course ignored in structured extension. On the other hand, this maximum farmer involvement implies a minimum extension agent team. The rate of adoption by farmers is determined either by the extension agent dissemination rate (area or farmers he is able to supervise) for structured extension, or by the ability of the DMC options to respond to farmers' constraints for spontaneous extension. (Résumé d'auteur)

Mots-clés Agrovoc : Gossypium, Semis direct

Mots-clés géographiques Agrovoc : Cameroun

Mots-clés géographiques complémentaires : Cameroun nord

Classification Agris : F08 - Cropping patterns and systems
F07 - Soil cultivation

Auteurs et affiliations

  • Balarabe Oumarou, CIRAD-PERSYST-UPR Couverts permanents (FRA)
  • Abou Abba Abdoulaye, SODECOTON (CMR)
  • Olivier Dominique, SODECOTON (CMR)
  • Naudin Krishna, CIRAD-PERSYST-URP SCRID (MDG) ORCID: 0000-0002-9108-2456

Source : Cirad - Agritrop (

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