An urgent challenge facing agricultural scientists working on upland food-crop production in many parts of the humid and subhumid tropics is the need to find viable, sustainable, and environmentally sound alternatives to the ancient shifting cultivation and bush-fallow, slash-and-bum cultivation system. The traditionally extensive, food-crop production system, which is stable and biologically efficient, operates effectively only when sufficient land is available to allow a long fallow period to restore soil productivity, which is exhausted during the short cropping cycle. Over the years, however, the traditional system has undergone rapid changes as a result of various socioeconomic factors such as rapid population growth.
In tropical Africa, the population is increasing at an annual rate of over 3.0%. Although the land for upland farming in tropical Africa is adequate, the land available to maintain the needed long fallow period is insufficient. This has severely pressured the land productivity under traditional farming systems and has led to increased deforestation. As productive land becomes scarce, smallholders are compelled to exploit more fragile and marginal lands that cannot support large populations practicing subsistence agriculture.
The theme of this workshop was the development of more productive, sustainable farming methods with low inputs in the humid and subhumid tropics using alley farming techniques. The objectives were to review the state of the art of alley farming research and application, woody species in tropical farming systems, and training and research needs and to establish channels for collaborative research. The workshop was divided into nine sessions, with a preopening tour of IIT A and ILCA on-station trials.
Publisher: IDRC (International Development Research Centre)
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