Agrarian change in tropical landscapes

Type Book Section - Drivers and outcomes of changing land use in parkland agroforestry systems of central Burkina Faso
Title Agrarian change in tropical landscapes
Publication (Day/Month/Year) 2016
Page numbers 269-299
This study was conducted in central Burkina Faso, Ziro province, in December 2014.
Its purpose was to identify research sites for the Agrarian Change Project. Using a
set of participatory rapid appraisal (PRA) approaches, the study staged a preliminary
inquiry into drivers of vegetation cover change and agrarian change. We looked for
historical trends of land modification and agricultural intensification. Six FGDs were
organized with community elders, smallholder farmers, local cooperatives and a variety
of forest user groups including women. Semi-structured interviews were administered
to state forestry and agricultural technicians working in the villages we visited. One
agricultural and two state forestry technicians were interviewed. The discussions and
interviews were guided by a questionnaire on land use, forest use and conservation,
agricultural productivity, food provisioning, local livelihoods, and rural development,
among others. We also reviewed the literature on past and ongoing interventions
that have spurred agrarian change processes. Using the information acquired, we
clustered the villages in our research site into gradients of land modification. These
included: low land modification (Zone 1), intermediate land modification (Zone 2) and
intensive land modification (Zone 3). Demographic and infrastructure data allowed
us to classify communities by population density, road and market access, and by
the extent of reliance on cash crop production. In Zone 3, farmers leaned toward
cash crop production. In the remote communities of Zone 1, cereal-based cropping is
commonly combined with livestock husbandry. Zone 2 communities, clustered as the
semi-intensive land modification gradient, engaged in diversified land uses of both
intensive cash crop production and extensive food crop systems. Migration from the
Sahel region of Burkina Faso to areas in and around our research sites is a major driver
of forest cover decline and agricultural expansion, as is the high population growth rate
of 3.6% per annum. Agricultural practices have intensified around cotton and maize
cropping systems using subsidized fertilizer inputs. Tree cover is important within
crop production systems known as parkland agroforestry, and forests are important for
supporting income generating activities of commercial woodcutting and harvesting,
and trade of shea and parkia (néré) fruits. Forests also provide livestock feed and fodder.

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