Adoption potential of two agroforestry interventions: improved fallows and domestication of indigenous fruit trees in the humid forest and savannah zone of Cameroon

ir. Ann Degrande

Safou (Dacryodes edulis) fruits are very nutritious with a high protein and lipid content Dika nut (Irvingia gabonensis) is very common in rural and urban markets of Cameroon, Gabon and Nigeria


  1. Background
  2. Objectives
  3. Methodology


The forests of West and Central Africa, rich in flora and fauna, are degrading rapidly due to timber exploitation and devastating slash and burn agriculture from farmers in search of new farm land to respond to ever increasing population. In 1996, more than 50.5% of the Cameroonian population was living below the poverty line. This percentage was higher in rural areas (56.7%). The increasing poverty was further exacerbated in the ’90 by the devaluation of the CFA franc and slumping coffee and cocoa prices in the world market, until then major income generators for farmers in the region. Nowadays, there is growing consensus among researchers and policy makers that poverty alleviation in the tropics can only be achieved through increases in agricultural production using soil fertility improving technologies, in addition to increased and diversified income for rural households. Since 1987 the “International Centre for Research in Agroforestry” in the tropical lowlands of West and Central Africa is looking for agroforestry technologies aimed at reducing deforestation and soil depletion and alleviating poverty. Until 1998 the research was oriented towards the development of improved fallow management as an alternative to the traditional slash and burn system. The techniques that were tested and evaluated with farmers included planting of fast-growing and N-fixing trees and shrubs that replenish soil fertility quicker than the natural vegetation. In 1999, ICRAF reoriented its research towards the domestication of indigenous fruit and medicinal trees. The main objective of this research programme is to increase, stabilise and diversify farmers’ income and to improve health care in rural areas, while safeguarding biodiversity and the environment. The research approach emphasises farmers’ active involvement in the development of the new technologies.

Village nursery where farmers are propagating indigenous fruit trees of their choice. Nkom Efoufoum II, Centre Province of Cameroon

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The main objective of the study is to assess adoption potential of agroforestry technologies by farmers of the region and to suggest means to ameliorate and accelerate this adoption. Different aspects affecting adoption of agroforestry technologies will be studied:

In addition, a closer look will be given to the participatory approach of the research and development of new agroforestry technologies with an aim of improving the methodology.

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Participatory research on improved fallows in humid forest and savannah zone of Cameroon was carried out from 1994 to 1999. Biophysical and socio-economic data were systematically collected and analysed. The following publications are already available.

Additional fieldwork will be limited to a survey on continued use and spread of improved fallows in former pilot sites.

Monitoring and evaluation of vegetative propagation techniques and the integration of improved planting material in farmers’ fields constitutes the greatest part of the fieldwork in this study. The methods that will be used are: direct observation, monitoring and evaluation forms, group and individual discussions with farmers and relevant partners, and other participatory tools such as matrix ranking and mapping. This should lead to the formulation of benefits and disadvantages of the technologies and the identification of intervention points for domestication.

A non-mist propagator, used to propagate fruit trees by rooting of cuttings Air layering consists of removing the bark of a branch still attached to the mother tree to stimulate its rooting

Economic analysis of the technologies will consist in collecting and compiling of costs and benefits. A combination of data obtained on-station and on-farm will be used.

A baseline socio-economic survey will be carried out (1) in all pilot villages and (2) with all experimenting farmers in order to gain understanding of:

  1. geographical location; relevant historical and cultural factors; road, education and health infrastructure; access to markets; availability of tree products; tree diversity; presence of extension services and prevalence of groups and associations, etc.
  2. age, education, matrimonial status, farming systems, farm area, income and expenditure profile, wealth level

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