DURAS Project

In most Sub-Saharan African countries, the forest ecosystems are facing a rapid transformation due to increasing demographic pressure and the expansion of cultivated areas in response to a growing food demand from urban centres. As a consequence, the phenomenon of ‘pioneer front’ is threatening the tropical forest ecosystems where are grown several cash crops (cocoa, coffee, palm oil, hevea, etc.) and which are subject to fluctuations in world market prices. In order to cope with this situation, as well as decreasing soil fertility and agricultural productivity, farmers are diversifying their activities to ensure food security and to maintain a decent income. Yet, these strategies contribute to foster competition on limited natural resources, and therefore fuelling tensions and conflicts within rural communities, value chain actors and even between generations, and raising the issue of sustainable ecosystems. In such context, the DURAS regional project – “Innovations and Peasants’ knowledge in managing the humid forest ecosystems in West and Centre Africa – Diversification of farming systems joining cash crops and food crops”– was designed by a group of African (Cameroon, Ghana, Guinea) and European (France) research institutes, and financed for two years (2005-2007) by the French Ministry of Foreign Affairs. This project aimed at enhancing sustainable management of farming ecosystems within the humid forest through a set of participatory training and advising support to farmers and by identifying and disseminating peasants’ innovations. As a junior researcher, I have conducted my Master research study within this project and successfully completed a final thesis by analyzing the local networks of creating and disseminating agricultural knowledge and innovations in the Centre region of Cameroon.