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Farming Strategy of African Smallholder Farmers in Transition from Traditional to Alternative Agriculture: The Case of the Nupe in Central Nigeria

Discussion Papers


June 2012


It is worthwhile to understand farming strategies of smallholder farmers in sub-Saharan Africa, especially those of farmers who are in transition from traditional to alternative agriculture in terms of adoption of innovative technologies. In a case study of inland valleys in central Nigeria, we investigated the farming strategy of Nupe farmers who have a long-term tradition of wet rice cultivation and indigenous methods of land preparation for soil, water and weed management. In this region, a new method of land preparation has recently been introduced along with a recommendation to use improved seeds and chemical fertilizers. Our findings reveal that Nupe farmers directly sow traditional seeds and apply a marginal amount of fertilizer to paddy plots prepared by labor-saving methods on drought-prone hydromorphic valley fringes and flood-susceptible valley bottoms, whereas they preferentially transplanted improved seedlings and applied a relatively large quantity of fertilizer to paddy fields prepared by a labor-intensive and mechanized method on a valley position where they can access to optimum water condition (less risky against the drought and flood).

Keywords: Indigenous knowledge, Land preparation method, Rice cultivation, Risk management, Technology adoption
JEL classification: N57, O33, Q16

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