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Farmer assessment and economic evaluation of shrub fallows in the Humid Lowlands of Cameroon

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Food crop production in highly populated areas around major cities of the humid lowlands of Cameroon is highly dependent on a fallow system (two–four years duration) mainly of Chromolaena odorata. Where such fallows have been in use for some time, problems of soil fertility with declining crop yields and higher incidence of weeds were reported. Although improved fallows have been widely adopted in sub-humid zones, there is no evidence of successful adoption of agroforestry-based technologies for soil fertility improvement in the humid forest areas. In response, ICRAF has developed a short fallow system with Cajanus cajan for soil fertility improvement in the humid lowlands of West Africa. Farmers' response to these cajanus fallows is positive. Benefits reported are higher crop yields after cajanus fallows compared to natural fallows, clearing of cajanus is easier and the shrubs shade out the weeds. Women particularly appreciate the technology for its low labour demand and for the fact that these shrubs can be planted on land with less secure tenure. Economic analysis of cajanus fallows compared to natural fallow over six years shows that cajanus fallows are profitable under most tested scenarios, both in terms of returns to land and to labour. It seems that improved fallows with Cajanus cajan are a good response to shortening natural fallows for households in the humid lowlands of Cameroon with land constraints. However, wider dissemination of the technology requires a targeted extension approach and adequate seed supply strategies, which should be based on joint efforts between farmers, extension services and research.

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    Degrande, A.




    cajanus cajan, economics, evaluation, fallow systems, shrubs, technology, assessment



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