Tree crop portfolios, life cycles and commodity markets in West Africa

Ruf François. 2009. Tree crop portfolios, life cycles and commodity markets in West Africa. In : Book of abstracts of the 2nd World Congress of Agroforestry, 23-28 August 2009, Nairobi, Kenya : Agroforestry, the future of global land use. ICRAF. Nairobi : WCA [Nairobi], Résumé, p. 51. ISBN 978-92-9059-255-6 World Congress of Agroforestry. 2, Nairobi, Kenya, 23 August 2009/28 August 2009.

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Abstract : In the humid tropics, a ready-market environment for export-oriented tree crops may lead to farming systems generating one overwhelming source of monetary revenues. This has been the case for cocoa for decades in West Africa. Whatever the complementary role of food crops and the use of shade trees, cocoa provides more than 90% of the monetary revenues to migrant cocoa farms in Côte d'Ivoire and Ghana. The first aim of this study was to update the information available about forms of intercropping or monocropping of the 'big five' tree crops in the humid tropics, cocoa, coffee, oil palm, coconut and rubber. They are considered here as 'shares' at the only 'stock exchange' available to smallholders in the humid zone: tree crops. How do smallholders combine the advantages and disadvantages of these shares to build a portfolio? The second objective was to identify the market factors interacting with other determinants that lead farmers to intercrop these trees in the same farm plot or a different plot. Surveys were conducted with some 500 farmers in the forest zones of Ghana and Côte d'Ivoire. Farm structure data were first recorded, followed by farmers' opinions about advantages and disadvantages of various tree crops, and about the choice of intercropping. Farmers logically tended to opt for 'shares' that bring returns as early as possible. Monthly revenues, adapted to a modern life, was also very much searched for. Food security was not neglected. Some food crops were maintained in mature cocoa farms and still play the local role of 'grocery'. Mainstream markets for the 'big five' do not seem to encourage smallholders to associate tree crops in the same plot, as if farmers were more confident in one share than in a trust fund. However, this leads to a kind of mosaic landscape which is not that far from agroforestry land use. (Texte intégral)

Classification Agris : F08 - Cropping patterns and systems
K10 - Forestry production
C30 - Documentation and information
E70 - Trade, marketing and distribution

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