22. Smallholder cotton cropping practices in Togo.
Coton Fibres Trop., 46, 1991, pp. 285-290
The work described here was undertaken over the period 1980-1990 in five villages in Togo and provided an understanding of the ways cotton growing has developed: smallholder responses to recommendations and the main obstacles to increase cotton yields. The analysis of production systems was completed by experiments in the smallholder sector, destined to test innovations developed by research or to expand on the agricultural survey.
The cotton development operation in Togo was one of the most spectacular in West Africa in the 1980s.
Many smallholders in Togo have only recently started to grow cotton, and are small-scale producers, with an average area of 0.5 ha of plantings each.
The low cotton productivity levels observed are partly explained by the use of lower quantities of inputs than recommended.
Despite the low productivity observed, cotton is still an attractive crop, by virtue of the income it provides and the fact that it can be used to fund inputs for food crops.
By linking the behaviour of cotton smallholders with the various constraints mentioned above, it is possible to characterize various smallholder strategies. Four main types of situation are described in this paper.
The main causes of these low yield levels are essentially linked to the logic behind smallholder cropping practices, which consists in deliberately growing cotton extensively so as to reduce the risk of failure.
Concluding, it can be said that extension activities should be based on priority topics, taking acount of technical constraints encountered in the field. It would be beneficial if detailed technical responses could be drawn up depending on the region and the existing production system, to ensure more effective valorization of the inputs purchased by the smallholder. A considerable effort should be made to pass on messages to farmers, since the main obstacle to intensification is not so much developing new techniques as encouraging smallholders to adopt existing ones.
For its part, agricultural research should take account of the difficulties encountered by smallholders in applying recommended techniques. Hence agronomists should be able to propose techniques more adapted to conditions in the rural environment, and it is essential to redefine research topics with a view to minimizing the technical constraints facing smallholders in Togo.
The final aim is to eventually produce specific recommendations, where the supervisor would move from his current role to that of advisor. It has to be said that the current state of cotton growing in Togo (numerous small-scale producers and low yields) makes this a difficult target.
In addition, cotton development cannot be dissociated from other agricultural or livestock activities. It would be no good concentrating on cotton in view of the fact that food crops are often the smallholder's priority and govern his behaviour with respect to cotton.
Cotton intensification should therefore be looked at in overall terms, i.e.in terms of integrated development, taking account of all the constraints encountered by smallholders in Togo.
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Africa, Uganda, study, highlands, field trials, intercropping, sorghum, finger millet, row arrangements, yield advantage
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