Volume 16, Number 2, Mars-Avril 2009
|Page(s)||76 - 86|
|Section||Agronomie – Environnement|
|Published online||15 March 2009|
Stratégies des planteurs de cocotiers au Ghana face à la maladie du jaunissement mortel
CIRAD, UMR Innovations
2 ONG « Agriculture et Cycle de vie »
In Ghana, coconut developed extensively during the 1960s, 1970s and 1980s in the coastal strip of the “Western” region. Subsequently, many coconut plantations disappeared as they were progressively affected by lethal yellowing disease. The response of the planters was to stop investing in coconut, then, after an interval of a few years, to start diversifying by planting oil palm, cocoa and rubber. At the same time, villages located further inland, which were untouched by the disease, continued to produce coconut. Between these two areas, in the “heart” of the coconut production region around Jomoro, coconut plantations were not affected by the disease, but were aging and undergoing a decrease in yield. The result of these developments was the relocation of production centres, which is the subject of analysis in this paper. We used a model that was developed for other perennial crops in conditions of almost complete monoculture, particularly cocoa. The model revealed a pattern of regional cycles succeeding one another that are relatively independent of changes in coconut prices. The cycles are based on the exhaustion of natural resources as a source of income, and on the concurrence of the life cycle of the plantation and that of family life. The model was first successfully tested on the situation of coconut in Ghana before 2005-2006. In 2005-2006, a major economic upheaval occurred. The arrival of Nigerian buyers helped cause a 50% increase in the price of coconut. Prices continued to rise in 2007. From a strictly technical and economic point of view, given the prices offered by Nigerian buyers, the cultivation of hybrid coconut, which is less vulnerable than the local coconut, again appeared to be very profitable, with a risk factor that was acceptable in regions not affected by the disease. These economic conditions enabled us to check what the model would predict in the case of a rise in prices, which was that in coconut production areas, the response would be very limited, i.e. the opposite of what classical theory predicts. In fact, in areas of aging monocrops, a rise in prices no longer has much effect. The model explained the real state of affairs at the regional scale: the recession of the previously leading crop is almost inevitable. On the other hand, a favourable response to the rise in prices is possible in districts and provinces in Ghana (and in Côte d’Ivoire) that have not been affected by the disease, thus reinforcing the process of relocation of production centres. This structural relocation could mean a new future for coconut in Ghana in the context of expanding regional demand in Nigeria, Burkina Faso and Mali. Yet the end of research, the end of the production of planting material, the lack of low-interest credit, (a precondition for re-investment), and finally, the abandonment of coconut planters by public policies, has left thousands of families and particularly old people, trapped in a spiral of recession which the rise in the price of coconut will not break.
Key words: price response / economic cycle / life cycle / monoculture / diversification / indebtedness
© John Libbey Eurotext 2009
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