Agricultural sustainability of smallholder floodplain agricultural systems : a case study of Fadama areas in North-Central Nigeria
Dan-Azumi, J. J.
PublisherUniversity College London (University of London)
MetadataShow full item record
In the aftermath of the global food crisis, great debates have arisen on the future of African agriculture. The crisis has once again raised the question of food security on the continent. Previous approaches aimed at increasing the agricultural productivity of farmers have failed. This has necessitated a call for a change of approach in which smallholders, who are the bulk of Africa’s food producers, will play a pivotal role. The main challenge facing the continent is how to balance the quest for food self-sufficiency and the demands of sustainability. This thesis is a concrete contribution in the quest for productive yet sustainable food systems in Africa. It surveys and analyses the sustainability of fadama (floodplains) farming systems of Northern Nigeria. Strong emphasis is placed on the socio-economic, institutional and demographic drivers affecting productivity and sustainability of fadama agriculture. Findings reveal a delicate interaction and negotiation across the formal and informal boundaries where traditional agricultural practices, based on an understanding of the particular physical reality and exploitation of natural synergies, are combined with inputs typical of conventional agriculture. African agriculture thus stands poised at crossroads; whether to abandon tradition in favour of entirely ‘modern’ methods and export markets as often advocated for in certain circles or depend on time tested indigenous knowledge systems and grassroots-defined development vision which combines popular livelihoods with respect for nature’s systems. Drawing on Bruno Latour, the metaphor of ‘hybridisation’ is used to justify a negotiated compromise between official discourses, which promote the use of chemicals and grassroots reality which relies on nature’s systems. Agroecology is offered as a model to overcome this agricultural dualism (inputs vs. tradition) through combining compatible elements of the two systems for greater productivity and sustainability. However, the key question of how agricultural hybridization should take place remains unresolved in this thesis for whereas it appears feasible in certain areas such as knowledge and institution sharing, in others such as the use of external inputs, the two systems appear irreconcilable.