Introduced in the sixteenth century from the Americas, maize in west and central Africa did not experience widespread spread comparable to that in eastern and southern Africa. Its cultivation has for a long time been concentrated in a relatively limited area: the riparian zone of the Gulf of Benin, from southern Ghana to western Cameroon. Maize was certainly present up to the Sudanian zone but diffuse; it occupied only a secondary or even marginal place in cropping systems. The last twenty years have seen a rapid expansion of corn growing in most of the region. Corn is the cereal with the widest geographical spread in the world. Native to central America, it is found throughout the tropics, and has spread widely to the north (USA, Canada, Europe) and south (Latin America, South Africa, Australia).
This is to say the extraordinary plasticity of this plant. In West Africa (Kwabre, Ghana), the regions with two rainy seasons, or forest areas, are classically distinguished from those with a shorter or longer rainy season called savannah zones. The climatic zone most favorable to maize is the savanna zone, where the rainfall is 800 to 1,200 mm. Sunshine is important and parasitism reduces. The use of late and productive varieties is possible (Kuivanen et al., 2016).
Kwabre has developed two types of poultry farming; one family more or less improved based on the exploitation of the relatively mixed local breeds, the other on the exploitation of imported breeds with varying degrees of intensification. The classification of poultry farms according to the FAO typology shows that there is no Kwabre rearing system type 1 outside the farm. Indeed, this system generally corresponds to parental farms and/or producers of chicks. Five farms produce chicks currently in Kwabre from hatching eggs! The number of commercial farms can be considered as belonging to the mainly to systems 2 and 3. System 2 brings together the "big producers", all proportions kept and brought back to the size of the Togolese poultry production (structures with more than 5 000 subjects).
People that a large majority of the breeders of laying hens are part of the sector. System 3 includes occasional breeders who target holiday periods and/or promoters whose main activity is not livestock farming. Generally, the workforce is less than 5 000 subjects, in most cases, they are broiler farms. There is always a very high prevalence of family breeders and globally, the structure of poultry farming (belonging to the different systems) has not been changed over the last few years. This study is based on the technical and economic conditions under which the expansion of maize crop has been carried out, considering the various ecological contexts and production systems (manual, hitched, motorized cultivation) and its link with the poultry sector.
The supply of cereals is a major concern in Kwabre. Attention is mainly focused on the trend growth of rice imports and, as a corollary, on the failure of rice production despite costly investments in water schemes. This rice problem tends to mask a positive dynamic in the cereals sector: the remarkable development of maize production. According to FAO data, maize production would have been high during the period 2000-2017 at a rate of 8.6% per year in the Sahelian countries (where maize was initially low) and 4.7% per year. in coastal countries (where maize is traditionally grown). These rates are significantly higher than population growth, which is around 3% per year.
We must avoid, for the sowing as for the growth of corn, the too high temperatures (April-June and October), the too low temperatures (from mid-November) at least for the sowing, the harmattan, and, always for sowing, heavy rains in late July and August. This imposes relatively narrow slots for sowing: wintering from 10 to 30 June in fresh off-season from October 15 to November 15 (with, however, a significant risk of seizures attack).
By schematizing a lot, and limiting ourselves to Oualo, we find three major categories of soils the hollalae (cuvettes), with clay contents greater than 50%, strictly rice-growing. They represent approximately 30% of the areas; False hollywood, (40% of area), intermediate between hollaldé and founded, with a clay content of 30 to 50%, where rice and other crops, including corn, are possible; the based, less clay (less than 30% content), in which all cultures are possible. They occupy 30% of the areas. The cultivation of corn is therefore possible on founded and false Holland. These are heavy soils, poorly draining, easily forming a crust on the surface. They are very generally deficient in phosphorus and sulfur. Their field capacity is high to very high (200 to 300 mm / m).
A statistical approach to the evolution of cereal production and its components (areas, yields) usually stumbles on the unreliability of data disseminated by national administrations. The fact that one is in the presence of a production mainly self-consumed on the farms increases the difficulty of the estimate. Thus, FAO maize data appear significant only at a sufficiently aggregated level (multi-country region) and long-term dynamics (10-20 years). By remaining at a national level, there are sometimes extreme discrepancies between sources, which take away any credibility from a quantitative analysis.
To identify developments at a sub-regional level, a comparative approach to local situations seems more relevant. It was possible to gather diachronic data of rotation on 10 soils. The latter obviously do not cover all the diversity of the savannah zone where maize is adapted to the climate (rainfall greater than 800 mm); however, their geographic dispersion makes it possible to qualify the phenomenon of corn expansion, which is often considered as widespread throughout the Kwabre. The maize dynamics were characterized according to the criterion of the place of corn in the cereal sole. An important issue is the substitution of maize for millet-sorghum. The surface sown with cereals is generally dictated by the desire to ensure the self-sufficiency of the exploitation taking into account a very important climatic hazard (the cereals are, remember it, essentially cultivated in rainfed). The cereal sole is thus fixed according to the food needs of the family (a standard of 250 kg of cereals per person is commonly accepted), it is about the choice of the cereal (corn, millet, sorghum, more rarely rain rice because the latter is more demanding in terms of water) than is the case with the producer. Three dynamics stand out (Duku, Gu & Hagan, 2011).
The advantage of maize over millet-sorghum stems primarily from its productive nature: yielding a much higher yield, maize generally allows higher productivity of labor, even if its cultivation requires a workload substantially heavier than millet-sorghum (millet-sorghum can cope with less maintenance). However, the productive nature of maize is only fully demonstrated in the context of adequate water supply and fertilization, which is more restrictive than for millet-sorghum. The water requirements of corn vary with the length of the cycle of the variety; in the Kwabre zone, it is accepted that 600 to 900 mm of well-distributed water are necessary. Susceptible to drought, corn appears as a risky crop.
Corn is also demanding in terms of soil fertility; it is well known that the yield superiority (maize over sorghum) asserts itself with increasing fertilization, thus frequently there is a differentiated use of space within terroirs, the best soils being assigned to maize and the poorer in millet-sorghum. Yield of maize is most frequently between 1.5 and 2.5 t / ha. It should be noted that the cultivation of millet-sorghum considered here practically never receives manure, whereas for maize, the proportion of the framed surface benefiting from a fertilization varies strongly according to the country. The early maturity of certain varieties of maize (cycle 90days) is another important advantage in the Kwabre where the food and financial lean period is difficult for most rural people to cross.
Since the end of the 1980s, cotton companies have been facing a sharp drop in cotton prices on the international market. To curb their financial deficits, they have to refocus their activities solely on cotton production. Thus, food crops have to bear a considerable reduction in support for technical extension, input credit, and even input distribution logistics. However, the replacement of these essential functions is still problematic (Lauderdale, 2000). The private sector is underdeveloped, and its intervention may be limited to the most accessible and profitable areas, leaving a large part of the rural area. An associative sector of the producer group type is emerging.
The cotton crisis is reflected at the producer level by a reduction in the cotton margin. By providing a decreasing remuneration, the cotton crop can less and less cover the intensification costs of other crops. The spread of maize in the future should certainly be part of an intensification process; we have seen that the advantage of maize compared to other cereals lies mainly in its high productive response to intensification. It is necessary for corn to benefit from expanded market opportunities for its crop to finance its own intensification costs. The narrowness of the maize market is underscored by the low share of maize production that is marketed. Experiments with semi-industrial processing of maize to increase market opportunities by providing housewives with ready-made flour have not been successful. In Mali, a market of only 400 t was captured, which represents only 10% of the installed production capacity.
The center-west knew until the beginning of the Eighties an intense immigration of pioneering farmers came to create a plantation of coffee or cocoa, high-yielding cash crops at the time. The west-central has a fairly large land abundance (the rural population density is usually less than 40 inhabitants per km ') and indigenous people are encouraged to surrender their land rights over the forest because of land legislation. very favorable to immigrants. If work on the plantation is the priority activity, the farmers also seek to cover their food needs with domestic production. Maize is a major component of the food crop system adopted by immigrants from the savanna zone (Burkinabe, North Ivory Coast, Malian), in many areas of the central west, to reach the demographic majority. Cereals play a key role in the dietary and cultural habits of these ethnic groups.
The cropping system adopted (installation of food crops on forest clearing where the cocoa tree or the coffee tree will then be planted) leads to a large expansion of food areas, including maize. The fastest possible pace of clearing and planting is indeed sought to ensure quasi-land ownership. This results in the release of large surplus food. These structural surpluses, which can be ceded by producers at a low price corresponding to marginal cost, will obviously attract trade operators. A commercial circuit will begin, making these productions evolve towards a more assertive sales vocation.
This study confirms that farmers in Kwabre can achieve remarkable maize yields by approaching the technical path proposed by the research, in particular by controlling adversities (weed, striga, streak) use of improved varieties sown at optimal densities; the use of fertilizers will be more dependent on the financial resources of the operator; this explains the current use of fertilizers in the cotton region, while the use of inputs is significantly reduced in food-producing regions (absence of organized cereals market). Maintaining soil fertility, however, remains a more complex problem due to the traditional practices of "shifting" cultivation and burning. The fixing of agriculture seems in this case a prerequisite to bring the farmer to manage his soil heritage. This alternative is subject to anti-erosion arrangements to stabilize the soil against the aggressive rains. The first real-life tests carried out on a farm scale tend to validate the "total absorption" device that the operator can carry out himself largely and at a lower cost.
Kuivanen, K. S., Alvarez, S., Michalscheck, M., Adjei-Nsiah, S., Descheemaeker, K., Mellon-Bedi, S., & Groot, J. C. (2016). Characterising the diversity of smallholder farming systems and their constraints and opportunities for innovation: A case study from the Northern Region, Ghana. NJAS-Wageningen Journal of Life Sciences, 78, 153-166.
Lauderdale, J. (2000). Issues regarding targeting and adoption of quality protein maize (QPM) (pp. iv-31). CIMMYT.
Duku, M. H., Gu, S., & Hagan, E. B. (2011). Biochar production potential in Ghana—a review. Renewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews, 15(8), 3539-3551.
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