Multiple outcomes of cultivation in the Sahel: a call for a multifunctional view of farmers' incentives

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A default assumption about the Sahel is that farmers consider food provision for the family as the sole reason for cultivation. The degree to which this ‘cultivation for food’ assumption has been embedded in the scientific literature on land use changes is signified by the fact that hardly any studies have questioned it. This article suggests that the notion of ‘cultivation for food’ tends to downplay a number of additional cultivation outcomes. By employing a conceptual framework that incorporates the concept of multifunctional agriculture, which was primarily developed for analysis of agriculture in the Global North, the study explores agricultural transitions in two villages in Burkina Faso. The analysis reveals that several household types exist, and one cannot assume that food provision is and always has been the main cultivation outcome. On the contrary, it was found that households have moved away from a sole focus on food production. Households have started to value additional cultivation outcomes like fodder production, preservation of farm identity, attachment to the village and prestige, with important differentiations between the identified household types. Hence, the paper argues that researchers and policy-makers must face the reality of new agricultural transitional pathways in the Global South.
Original languageEnglish
JournalInternational Journal of Agricultural Sustainability
Issue number1
Pages (from-to)1-22
Number of pages22
Publication statusPublished - 2015

ID: 47922063