Cocoa agroforestry systems in Centre and South Cameroon: innovation or relic of the past ? - Archive ouverte HAL Access content directly
Conference Poster Year : 2019

Cocoa agroforestry systems in Centre and South Cameroon: innovation or relic of the past ?

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From urban margins to the remotest forest areas, multistrata and biodiversity-rich cocoa agroforestry systems dominate the agricultural landscapes of Centre and South Cameroon Regions. For a long time, the development of cocoa production benefited from the strong support of the Cameroonian State. Local farmers rapidly adopted the new crop and adapted their swidden agriculture practices, developing an original agroforestry system rich in biodiversity. Progressively they introduced the improved hybrid seeds, shade regulation techniques and chemical inputs promoted by an active national extension network. Unfortunately, the major economic crisis of the late 1980s and following structural adjustment plans put an end to State support and left the Cameroonian agricultural sector in stagnation for two decades. The decline and volatility of cocoa price, population migrations (rural to city, rural to forest areas), and major socio-economic changes induced a profound transformation of the cocoa production sector. Nowadays, cocoa growers’ profiles and strategies are highly diverse, a diversity which in turn impacts cocoa plantations. Comparing four ecologically and socially contrasted sites in Centre and South Cameroon, a multidisciplinary study thoroughly investigated 170 farmers and 71 cocoa plantations. Ten major types of cocoa plantations were identified and characterized in terms of species composition of trees and vegetation structure (number of trees and basal area per stratum), and cocoa technical management. In the two oldest sites (Obala and Akongo) agroforestry systems have persisted, though evolving somehow. In the more densely populated areas near Yaoundé (Obala), the intermediate stratum (8 to 25 m high) has become richer in fruit trees, the cocoa stand has been renewed with new varieties and treated with pesticides. In Talba, where population pressure is increasing in a forest area, the natives and in-migrants from Obala have opted for cocoa plantations rich in forest trees with a predominance of the high stratum (from 25 to more than 60 m), mixing old/new cocoa varieties and mobilizing pesticide treatments. On the forest margins of Mintom, where population pressure is still low, more complex agroforests (in number of strata and specific diversity) have remained, with old cocoa varieties and less pesticide mobilization; they have been even developed by recent in-migrants from Obala. However, in Mintom as well as Talba, new cocoa plantations with simple structures, new cocoa varieties and high intensity of pesticide treatment, have been established by new stakeholders, mainly urban elites investing non-agricultural capital in cocoa production, and seeking short-term financial gains. Demographic pressure, the forest environment, the origin of farmers and their strategies are the major factors that determine the farmer’s choice between complex agroforests, intensively managed cocoa plantations or a hybridization of the two.
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hal-03726578 , version 1 (18-07-2022)


  • HAL Id : hal-03726578 , version 1


Isabelle Michel, Stéphanie M. Carrière, François Manga Essouma, Patrice Levang. Cocoa agroforestry systems in Centre and South Cameroon: innovation or relic of the past ?. 4. World Congress on Agroforestry, May 2019, Montpellier, France. , pp.501-501, 2019, Book of abstracts. 4th World Congress on Agroforestry. ⟨hal-03726578⟩
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