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    'Staff publications' is the digital repository of Wageningen University & Research

    'Staff publications' contains references to publications authored by Wageningen University staff from 1976 onward.

    Publications authored by the staff of the Research Institutes are available from 1995 onwards.

    Full text documents are added when available. The database is updated daily and currently holds about 240,000 items, of which 72,000 in open access.

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    Diversity in success: Interaction between external interventions and local actions in three rice farming areas in Benin
    Totin, G.G.E. ; Mierlo, B.C. van; Mongbo, R. ; Leeuwis, C. - \ 2015
    Agricultural Systems 133 (2015). - ISSN 0308-521X - p. 119 - 130.
    institutional change - responsive evaluation - innovation systems - management - networks - poverty
    Since the rice crisis of 2007, the government of Benin has initiated many programmes for rice intensification. Comparison of three rice production areas shows that local rice production has indeed been increased by the facilities provided by the government programmes. Although broadly the same facilities (market outlet, credit, input, etc.) were provided to rice farmers in the three study areas, which are located close to one another, there are not only similar, but also some different outcomes with regard to farmers’ practices. There were also some unexpected changes, like the shift from limited collective canal cleaning to individual canal cleaning in Koussin-Lélé and the use of pumps in upland areas in Bamè. The study explores the interplay between these external interventions of government programmes and local actions of farmers to explain the outcomes. Using an actor-oriented perspective, the study concludes that farmers’ agency played a critical role in the success of interventions; the changes occurred because of local actions of the farmers and intermediaries interacting with the external interventions at diverse junctures. Differences in strategies for resolving livelihood problems, in production options and biophysical conditions influence farmers’ local actions and contribute to the explanation of the diversity of outcomes. The main lesson drawn from this research is that evaluation studies should not consider external interventions as the only or primary source of change. The dynamic interplay between local agency, intermediation and external interventions makes room for change.
    Revisiting land reform: land rights, access, and soil fertility management on the Adja Plateau in Benin
    Yemadje, H.R.M. ; Crane, T. ; Mongbo, R.L. ; Saidou, A. ; Azontond, H.A. ; Kossou, D.K. ; Kuyper, T.W. - \ 2014
    International Journal of Agricultural Sustainability 12 (2014)3. - ISSN 1473-5903 - p. 355 - 369.
    institutional change - political ecology - africa - innovation
    In the oil palm-based cropping system on the Adja Plateau, land titling plays an important role. Landowners argue that oil palm fallow (dekan) restores soil fertility, but in the long-term it is also an instrument in the struggle for control over land. A land-titling programme in the study area allowed an analysis of the relationship between titling and soil fertility management that showed two different institutional effects with socio-technical consequences. Titling increased land security for landowners and, although this security initially reduced access to land for tenants, a subsequent introduction of witnessed paper-based contracts enhanced tenants’ access to land and improved their security of tenure. Improved titling and more secure tenure reduced conflicts over land and opened possibilities for agricultural intensification. This change was associated with a shift from long-term oil palm fallow to shorter-term landmanagement practices where tenants and landowners increasingly invested in land through rotations between maize and cowpea (rather than maize mono-cropping) and the use of mineral fertilizers, without increased use of household waste. The paper suggests that sustainable agricultural intensification requires institutional changes, based on a mixture of customary and formal rules, in both landownership and rental agreements to access land.
    Multi-stakeholder innovation processes in African smallholder farming: key lessons and policy recommendations from Benin, Kenya and South Africa
    Triomphe, B. ; Floquet, A. ; Waters-Bayer, A. ; Kamau, G. ; Berg, J. van den; Letty, B. ; Mongbo, R. ; Crane, T. ; Almekinders, C.J.M. ; Sellamna, N. ; Vodouhe, S.D. ; Oudwater, N. - \ 2014
    In: Proceedings of the International Workshop on Agricultural Innovation Systems in Africa: Innovation in smallholder farming in Africa: recent advances and recommendations. - Montpellier : CIRAD - p. 44 - 55.
    Within the context of the European-funded JOLISAA FP7 project (JOint Learning in Innovation Systems in African Agriculture), several agricultural innovation experiences focused on smallholders were assessed in Benin, Kenya and South Africa. Fifty-six cases were characterised through review of grey literature and interviews with resource persons according to a common analytical framework inspired by the innovation systems perspective. Of these, 13 were assessed in greater depth through semistructured interviews, focus-group discussions and multistakeholder workshops. The cases cover a wide diversity of experiences in terms of types, domains, scales, timelines, initiators of innovation and stakeholders involved. Findings indicate that innovation triggers and drivers were multiple. For external stakeholders, likelihood of offering a technological fix to an existing problem and availability of funding were key triggers. For local people, access to input and output markets was a powerful trigger and driver. Market types and dynamics varied greatly. Developing functional value chains and accessing (often erratic) markets proved challenging especially for poorer and weakly organised farmers. Over long periods, many determinants of innovation change dynamically and often unpredictably during the process, including motivations of key stakeholders, triggers, drivers and stakeholder arrangements. The direction of innovation evolves, usually moving from a technology entry point to more organisational or institutional innovation. A recurring challenge for making interventions is whether and how these build on local initiatives and knowledge before engaging in innovation development. Another challenge lies in sustaining innovation processes that have been externally initiated and conducted within a protected environment, once the project stops. The conclusion is that innovation has to be seen as a continuously evolving bundle of innovations of various kinds, rather than as a pre-planned and usually narrowly defined intervention. Consequently, open-ended, flexible approaches to innovation development are needed with the potential to engage meaningfully over a long time with local stakeholders, so that they take full charge of the innovation process and direction.
    Drivers of cooperative choice: canal maintenance in smallholder irrigated rice production in Benin
    Totin, G.G.E. ; Leeuwis, C. ; Mierlo, B.C. van; Mongbo, R. ; Stroosnijder, L. ; Kossou, D.K. - \ 2014
    International Journal of Agricultural Sustainability 12 (2014)3. - ISSN 1473-5903 - p. 334 - 354.
    collective action - institutional innovation - social dilemmas - inland valleys - local commons - group-size - philippines - systems
    Rice production in inland valleys in Southern Benin was initiated by the public sector. The subsequent devolution of responsibility for maintaining the collective irrigation infrastructure to farmers created an opportunity to study the factors that affect cooperation in canal maintenance. We used a social dilemma perspective to compare three rice production areas that differed in the extent of cooperation, based on focus group interviews, surveys, and archival research. The findings draw attention to the nature of the resource, the characteristics of the user group, and farmer-based institutional arrangements as explanatory variables. Specifically these include (1) the balance between water demand and availability, (2) the existence of inequities and privileged positions within the group, and (3) the strength of group organization and the ability to sanction uncooperative behaviour. The existence of alternative sources of livelihood also influenced cooperation. Contrary to our expectations, the largest and most diverse group of producers appeared best organized and equipped to engage in cooperation. Size and diversity might actually allow (1) the emergence of institutional arrangements that can overcome social dilemma situations and demotivation emanating from customary privileges and exemptions and (2) better use of Africa's irrigation potential.
    Perspective institutionnelle des pratiques de gestion de l'eau et de production rizicole au Bénin
    Totin, E. - \ 2013
    Université d'Abomey Calavi. Promotor(en): R. Mongbo; Cees Leeuwis, co-promotor(en): E. Agbossou. - Abomey-Calavi : - 136 p.
    An institutional perspective on farmers’ water management and rice production practices in Benin
    Totin, G.G.E. - \ 2013
    Wageningen University. Promotor(en): Leo Stroosnijder; R. Mongbo, co-promotor(en): Barbara van Mierlo; E. Agbossou. - Wageningen : Wageningen UR - ISBN 9789461738103 - 136
    oryza - rijst - gewasproductie - waterbeheer - beleid - benin - oryza - rice - crop production - water management - policy - benin

    This thesis is part of the wider debate about the role of institutions in agricultural innovation processes. It

    investigates how institutions shape rice production in inland valleys in Benin. It starts from a scoping study

    (prior to this research) on smallholder irrigation in Benin, which indicated irrigation water stress as one of

    the main problems in the rice production chain. The authors explain the water scarcity as the consequence

    of poor maintenance of the irrigation canals, whereas others think that is a direct manifestation of climate

    change. It appears that a mono‐technical explanation cannot give a deep enough understanding of the

    existing water problem, which has various dimensions. The thesis therefore assumes that an institutional

    perspective would provide a better insight into the barriers that hinder the efficient use of irrigation water

    in the rice production chain.

    Chapter 1 introduces the main problems teased out in the book. Between 1976 and 1990, the Benin

    government initiated numerous interventions to increase local rice production. These different

    interventions were ineffective because of the many innovation barriers that existed in the rice chain.

    Therefore, the first research question addressed in this research is: what are the constraints in the local rice

    value chain and the opportunities for innovation in the research areas?

    After the 2007 rice crisis, the government introduced a new generation of interventions which

    prioritised the institutional facilities (e.g., subsidies for seeds and loans for fertiliser, market facilities and so

    forth) to support the intensification of local rice production. There have been successful outcomes in terms

    of increased rice yield, rice production and farmers’ income. So, this research is interested in studying the

    effectiveness of the two generations of interventions in the rice value chain. The following research

    question is also addressed: how and to what extent does the new generation of interventions create space

    for rice production in the research areas and overcome the shortcomings of previous interventions?

    Which factors hinder the effective use of irrigation water and the development of the local rice value

    chain in the three research areas are further explored in a diagnostic study and described in Chapter 2. The

    diagnosis indicates that it is not only technical constraints that hinder the local rice production chain;

    rather, a combination of technical and institutional factors affect the development of rice production.

    Moreover, both local and higher level institutional barriers influence negatively the local rice value chain.

    The barriers to innovation include: unclear division of responsibilities for canal maintenance between local

    farmer groups and the government, lack of effective local rules for the distribution of the available water

    and maintenance of the irrigation infrastructures, distrust among farmers and the constraining formal and

    informal credit systems and uncertain market outlets. These constraints reduce rice output and farmers’


    After identifying the main economic, institutional and technical constraints that limited the

    development of the local rice production chain, the study also describes the potential opportunities that

    exist for innovation in the chain. Chapter 2 shows that, from a bio‐technical perspective, in the three

    irrigation schemes, the actual rice output remains far below the estimated potential of the command areas,

    given the water and land available in the inland valleys. It establishes that there is room for a considerable

    increase in rice production and associated incomes. For instance, in Koussin‐Léléand Bamè, farmers have

    lands in the uplands as well as the lowlands. Less than 10% of the potential land is used for rice production.

    Chapter 4 shows an option to improve soil moisture in the uplands and extend rice production in this part

    of the valleys.

    In the research areas, there are differences in the extent to which the rules for collective activities

    are set and followed. The farmers cooperate, for instance, to collectively purchase inputs, make collective

    credit requests or sell collectively the harvested rice. At the start of the study however, not all the farmers

    contributed to the collective cleaning of the canals to increase the water discharge that serves all of them.

    among the farmers, a comparative analysis of the three research areas was conducted, using a framework

    to highlight key contextual differences such as the nature of the resource, the characteristics of the user

    group and farmer‐based institutional arrangements in the geographical areas. The findings of the case

    studies, reported in Chapter 3, draw attention to the balance between water demand and availability, the

    existence of inequities and privileged positions within the groups and the strength of farmers’ group

    organisation and the ability to sanction uncooperative behaviour. The existence of alternative sources of

    livelihood also influenced cooperation. Contrary to our expectations, the analysis shows that the largest

    and most diverse group of farmers appeared best organised and equipped to engage in cooperation. Large,

    diverse farmer groups allow the emergence of institutional arrangements that can overcome social

    dilemma situations and demotivation emanating from customary privileges and exemptions.

    A collaborative action research approach was used to explore the opportunity to expand rice

    production in the upland areas. In Chapter 2, it was already established that rice production could be

    improved for the uplands if there was a better supply of irrigation water. This analysis inspired the action

    research conducted in collaboration with the rice farmers (from the three production research areas), an

    extension agent and a researcher to examine the application of mulch (three doses) and the use of a highyield

    lowland rice variety to replace an upland rice variety (Chapter 4). Multiple methods suggested by both

    the researcher and farmers themselves were used to evaluate the trial results: quantitative evidence was

    combined with qualitative evaluation, using indicators agreed upon by the collaborating group. The results

    show that the lowland rice variety IR‐841 with 10 t ha‐1 ‘rice‐straw’mulch allows farmers to better use

    available water in the upland areas and increase rice yields. Although opting for IR‐841 over the specially

    bred upland variety Nerica‐4 is risky because of its high water demand and the uncertainty in rainfall

    distribution, farmers use IR‐841 for profit maximisation. Beyond its technical output, the joint

    experimentation facilitated the exchange of knowledge, experiences and practices among the involved


    Since the rice crisis of 2007, the government of Benin has initiated a variety of short‐and long‐term

    programmes aimed at providing access for farmers to agricultural inputs for local rice intensification.

    Chapter 5 explores the interplay between the external interventions of the government programmes and

    the local actions of farmers, in the three research areas. Using an actor‐oriented perspective combined

    with the timelines of the chronological events, the study concludes that farmers’ local actions interact at

    diverse junctures with the external interventions. The study shows that it is not only external interventions

    that trigger changes; rather, the interaction between external interventions and farmers’ local actions

    makes room for changes to happen. Moreover, the investigations show that, although the same

    institutional conditions (through the different government interventions) were provided to rice farmers in

    the three study areas, located close to one another, there are similar, but also divergent, hence unexpected

    outcomes regarding farmers’ social practices. The most obvious unexpected outcomes of the programme

    interventions are the change from limited collective canal cleaning to individual effective canal cleaning in

    Koussin‐Lélé, the use of pumps in upland areas in Bamèand farmers who changed from growing vegetables

    or maize alone to growing rice in combination with these in Zonmon. The wish to satisfy subsistence

    livelihood needs, the different production options available and natural biophysical conditions (e.g., floods)

    are the main factors that contribute to shaping farmers’ local actions and explain the diversity of practices

    in the three research areas, although they all received the same interventions.

    Chapter 6 provides answers to the research questions formulated in Chapter 1 and reflects on how

    the different results from the thesis contribute to the policy debate about how to improve rice production

    in Benin. Reflection on the sustainability of the current rice intensification policy established that the

    government interventions constitute a “protected space”. However, there is no guarantee that the

    intensification of local rice production will still continue when the supports provided by the government

    projects end. Another limitation of the rice intensification policy is that it relies on the use of the irrigation

    schemes designed for one cropping season in a context where farmers are now producing up to three

    cropping seasons a year. The inadequacy of the irrigation design concept for the intensification of rice

    production might contribute to explaining why some of the farmers are suffering from the lack of irrigation

    water. Moreover, although the inland valleys in Benin are a potential area for rice production, they are also

    complex ecosystems with irregular water supply wherein smallholder farmers must carefully allocate

    available resources.

    The thesis shows the importance of institutions in agricultural production. Many institutional studies

    are about social issues. One of the main contributions of this thesis relates to the points it established by

    linking institutional issues with technical dimensions. Chapters 3 and 4 explain the interrelations between

    institutions and water management practices. The experimental procedure described in Chapter 4 was

    grounded in the institutional context but also has a technical purpose that is, identifying water use options

    that allow the expansion of rice production in the uplands. By exploring a technical issue like water

    management from an institutional perspective, the thesis provides clear understanding of the reasons

    behind farmers’ seemingly illogical or irrational water management practices.

    Political ecology in the oil palm-based cropping system on the Adja plateau in Benin: connecting soil fertility and land tenure
    Yemadje, H.R.M. - \ 2013
    Wageningen University. Promotor(en): Thomas Kuijper; R. Mongbo; D.K. Kossou, co-promotor(en): Todd Crane. - Wageningen : Wageningen UR - ISBN 9789461737557 - 111
    teeltsystemen - oliepalmen - ecologie - politiek - bodemvruchtbaarheid - pachtstelsel - innovaties - landhervorming - sociale verandering - intensivering - agroforestry - benin - cropping systems - oil palms - ecology - politics - soil fertility - tenure systems - innovations - land reform - social change - intensification - agroforestry - benin

    Keywords: Innovation system, Soil fertility management, Land reform, Participatory technology development, Social change, Agroforestry, Land access rights, Fallow, Agricultural intensification, Africa

    On the Adja plateau (West Benin), multiple actors are involved in an intercropping system with oil palm and food crops. This system is known as the oil palm-based cropping system (OPBCS). It contains two stages: a stage of small oil palms underneath which food crops are grown and a fallow stage with mature oil palm. Landowners grow oil palm mainly for the artisanal production of palm wine and sodabi, rather than for palm oil, for which the region is unsuitable for climatological reasons. The OPBCS has to be analysed not only from a technical and ecological perspective, but also from an institutional one. In the OPBCS there are competing claims between landowners and tenants for land use. Tenants access land under specific customary rules, grow food crops beneath oil palm and extend the cropping period by severely pruning palms because their right to grow food crops terminates when the palms reach a height of 2 m. Landowners claim that extended cropping reduces soil fertility and that long-duration oil palm fallows are necessary for soil fertility regeneration. Tenants state that long-duration fallow maintains land scarcity. In an attempt to remedy the competing claims, a land titling programme was implemented in some villages on the Adja plateau.

    I analysed the system with a political ecology lens. I demonstrated the implications of the multiple institutions for land access and ownership, and therefore for the competing claims. Land titling initially created land insecurity for tenants, as they were thrown off the land by owners who wanted to demonstrate ownership. Subsequently, new rules related to land access by tenants were introduced. Both ownership and access by tenants relied on a different mix of formal and informal practices, as evidenced by formal contracts, petits papiers and a new paper contract. The new paper contract provides tenants the rights to rent the land for up to 25 years. The titling programme also enhanced on-going processes of intensification and commercialisation, as evidenced by increased use of mineral fertiliser and the regression of the OPBCS. The long-duration fallow periods did not improve biological and chemical soil fertility. Long-duration fallows are rather used as an expression of control over land. Mineral fertiliser and organic amendments (household waste) explain lack of effects of fallowing. Application of household waste and mineral fertiliser did not change soil organic matter content. Organic amendments increased maize yields more than mineral fertiliser. Household waste did not improve agronomic use efficiency of mineral fertiliser.

    I suggest that formal and customary land tenure institutions can be blended to generate a hybrid system. Such a hybrid system might contribute to sustainable soil fertility management.

    MFS II Joint Evaluation of International Lobbying and Advocacy : Baseline Report
    Arensman, B. ; Barrett, J. ; Bodegom, A.J. van; Buchanan, K.S. ; Fernando, U. ; Hilhorst, D. ; Klaver, D.C. ; Mongbo, R.L. ; Rasch, E.D. ; Richert, W. ; Waegeningh, C. van; Wagemakers, A. ; Wessel, M. van - \ 2013
    Wageningen : Wageningen UR, Social Sciences Group (MFS II ILA final Baseline Report ) - 237 p.
    The political ecology of land management in the oil palm based cropping system on the Adja Plateau in Benin. NJAS - Wageningen
    Yemadje, H.R.M. ; Crane, T.A. ; Vissoh, V.P. ; Mongbo, R.L. ; Richards, P. ; Kossou, D.K. ; Kuyper, T.W. - \ 2012
    NJAS Wageningen Journal of Life Sciences 60-63 (2012). - ISSN 1573-5214 - p. 91 - 99.
    soil fertility management - tenure - ghana - farmers - gender - wenchi
    The Adja plateau (Benin) is densely populated by tenant and landowner farmers engaged in oil palm based cropping. Landowners use oil palm sap for the production of sodabi (a local spirit), and an oil palm fallow (if no crops are grown beneath the palms) to restore soil fertility. In this area, growing oil palm for its oil is uncommon. Tenants access the land under specific contracts but are not allowed to plant oil palm. They grow food crops beneath the oil palm and extend the cropping period by severely pruning the palms because their right to grow food crops terminates when the palms reach a height of 2 m. The competing claims between landowners and tenants and between oil palm and annual food crops result in conflicts over practices that either degrade or restore soil fertility. Using a political ecology perspective, we examined how two overlapping institutions shape access to and management of the land: the customary tenure system and the legal system that was introduced to regulate titling and contracting. These institutions have divergent implications for tenants and landowners, in terms of both social equity and land management practices. The implications of this institutional patchwork (bricolage) for joint learning to achieve sustainable agriculture are discussed.
    Barriers and opportunities for innovation in rice production in the inland valleys of Benin
    Totin, E. ; Mierlo, B. van; Saidou, A. ; Mongbo, R. ; Agbossou, E.K. ; Stroosnijder, L. ; Leeuwis, C. - \ 2012
    NJAS Wageningen Journal of Life Sciences 60-63 (2012). - ISSN 1573-5214 - p. 57 - 66.
    systems-approach - perspective - management
    This study investigates the technical and institutional factors that hinder the effective use of irrigation water and the development of the local rice value chain in an inland valley of Benin. Primary data have been collected in three areas: Koussin-Lélé, Bamè and Zonmon. The diagnosis indicates that both local and higher level institutional barriers affect the development of the local rice value chain negatively. The barriers to innovation include an unclear division of responsibilities between local farmer groups and the government for canal maintenance, a lack of effective local rules for the distribution and maintenance of the irrigation infrastructure and distrust among farmers, related to privileges of the farmer leaders, as well as the constraining formal and informal credit systems and uncertain market outlets. The barriers depress rice output and the income of farmers. The windows of opportunity to stimulate innovation comprise consumers’ affinity to local products and territorial product labels, private–public community partnerships, the irrigation potential of inland valleys by the use of small pumps in combination with shallow tube well irrigation
    A participatory diagnostic study of the oil palm cropping system on the Adja plateau (Benin) and perspectives for improvement
    Yemadje, H.R.M. ; Vissoh, P.V. ; Mongbo, R. ; Azontonde, A. ; Saidou, A. ; Kossou, D. ; Roling, N. ; Crane, T.A. ; Richards, P. ; Kuyper, T.W. - \ 2011
    In: Proceedings of the CoS-SIS Cotonou, Benin Workshop, 26-29 Oct. 2010, Benin. - Accra, Ghana : Qualitype Ltd. - p. 37 - 45.
    Organizational analysis of the seed sector of rice in Guinea: stakeholders, perception and institutional linkages
    Okry, F. ; Mele, P. van; Nuijten, H.A.C.P. ; Struik, P.C. ; Mongbo, R.L. - \ 2011
    Experimental Agriculture 47 (2011)1. - ISSN 0014-4797 - p. 137 - 157.
    This paper analyses the organization of the rice seed sector in Guinea with the overall objectives to assess how organizational settings affect seed supply to small-scale farmers and to suggest institutional changes that would favour seed service and uptake of varieties. Data were collected in Guinea, West Africa, using focus group discussions with extension workers, farmers, representatives of farmers’ associations, agro-input dealers, researchers and non-governmental organization (NGO) staff, and surveys of 91 rice farming households and 41 local seed dealers. Findings suggest that the current institutional settings and perceptions of stakeholders from the formal seed sector inhibit smallholder farmers’ access to seed. Seed interventions in the past two decades have mainly relied on the national extension system, the research institute, NGOs, farmers’ associations and contract seed producers to ensure seed delivery. Although local seed dealers play a central role in providing seed to farmers, governmental organizations operating in a linear model of formal seed sector development have so far ignored their role. We discuss the need to find common ground and alternative models of seed sector development. In particular we suggest the involvement of local seed dealers in seed development activities to better link the formal and the informal seed systems and improve smallholder farmers’ access to seed from the formal sector.
    The social construction of weeds: different reactions to an emergent problem by famers, officials and researchers
    Vissoh, P.V. ; Mongbo, R. ; Gbèhounou, G. ; Hounkonnou, D. ; Ahanchédé, A. ; Röling, N.G. ; Kuijper, T.W.M. - \ 2007
    International Journal of Agricultural Sustainability 5 (2007)2-3. - ISSN 1473-5903 - p. 161 - 175.
    Rapid population increase in southern Benin has changed the prevailing system of shifting cultivation into one of more permanent land use. New herbaceous weeds exacerbated rural poverty through crop failure, higher labour inputs, rising costs of production and reduced availability of suitable land. We investigated how different actors reacted to the emergence of weeds, in terms of the construction of knowledge, labour practices and technology development. Weeds have become an important cause of rural poverty. Farmers have actively engaged in technology development and new labour practices have emerged. Officials early on did report weed problems, especially where export crops were concerned. Researchers have not translated the new weed problem into a research priority until very recently, resulting in limited and inappropriate weed management technologies. The challenge of the research of which this study is part is to optimize weed management, by combining emergent indigenous weed management practices with scientific knowledge.
    Social construction of weeds
    Vissoh, P.V. ; Mongbo, R. ; Gbéhounou, G. ; Hounkonnou, D. ; Ahanchédé, A. ; Röling, N.G. ; Kuyper, T.W. - \ 2006
    In: Convergence of Sciences: Creating innovation systems with African farmers. - Wageningen : Centre Technique de Coopération Agricole & Rurale ACP-UE - p. 38 - 39.
    Interventions et participation paysanne.
    Boon, C.A.M. ; Mongbo, R.L. ; Vodouhe, D.S. ; Cino, B. - \ 1997
    In: Dynamique paysanne sur le plateau Adja du Bénin / Daane, J.R.V., Breusers, M., Frederiks, E., - p. 264 - 287.
    The appropriation and dismembering of development intervention : policy, discourse and practice in the field of rural development in Benin
    Mongbo, R.L. - \ 1995
    Agricultural University. Promotor(en): N.E. Long; J.H.B. den Ouden. - S.l. : Mongbo - ISBN 9789054854821 - 283
    plattelandsplanning - plattelandsontwikkeling - sociale economie - ontwikkelingsprojecten - planning - gemeenschapsontwikkeling - overheidsdiensten - benin - economische planning - rural planning - rural development - socioeconomics - development projects - planning - community development - public services - benin - economic planning - cum laude

    This book concerns a Community Development Programme which provides a vehicle for a theoretical discussion of the reproduction of the discourse and practice of development intervention in general, and the concept of rural development as a field of social interaction in particular. The actions on which the theoretical discussion is based took place in various settings: in ministry offices, within the development intervention institution (the CARDER) and at village level. The Community Development Programme ran in all the six provinces of Benin from 1989-1993 and involved five to eight villages in each province. The programme was implemented by the CARDERs, which held a quasi-monopoly over development interventions in Benin from 1975 (when they were created) until they were disbanded in the early 1990s with the demise of the Marxist-Leninist regime

    The programme's goal, as formulated in the policy statement, was 'to turn our dying villages into dynamic places'. It was presented as an open ended participatory type of programme, meant to be an original approach to improving the living conditions of rural people, since, according to an assessment made of the village situation, all previous projects implemented had failed to lift rural peoples from their poverty. But looked at closely, the programme seemed more an attempt by the Minister and his close staff to contribute to the general campaign launched by the regime to win back the people's enthusiasm and support, then at its lowest ebb due to the particularly severe socio-political and economic crisis in Benin at the end of the 1980s. The sharp drop in state earnings following the persistent crisis in Nigeria, together with, among other things, the weak management of state resources, had made it difficult for the government to meet its running costs, the most visible aspect being the delay in paying civil servant's salaries, sometimes by as much as five to eight months. A structural adjustment programme was being negotiated with the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank, together with a restructuring of agricultural services under which staff were to be reduced by more than 50 percent. This was to extend to all civil servants. The Community Development Programme, as with other aspects of the regime's campaign, failed to win back people's confidence. There were street demonstrations and various political and economic pressures, from within and without the country, that finally brought the regime to an end at the famous National Conference of February 1990. This context was neither outside nor above the people but was a part of the everyday reality of intervention institutions and villages alike, and contributed to the making of the socio-political landscape surrounding the programme.

    In the CARDERs, the Minister's policy statement - that was to launch this new approach - was incoporated into a state intervention framework and culture that dated back to or had its roots in the colonial administration. It had been reproduced continuously in the process of creating a nation state out of what was a heterogenous Dahomean colonial territory. In the Zou Province, the implemenatation of the programme started with an initiation phase that resulted in almost standard development plans for all the eight villges concerned. Yet the plans had been formulated and presented with a participatory rhetoric that had matched the Minister's orders and the development intervention language then current, while giving to the CARDERs structure and functioning an image of coherency. But behind the coherent image, the programme both reflected and generated many conflictive situations. Ad hoc as well as more stable groupings and leadership emerged or were reproduced out of unspoken criteria and preoccupations as varied as people's regions of origin, ethnic affiliation, religion, patron-client relations, career perspectives, private (family) problems and sometimes purely technical matters. The social interactions in which the actors involved in the Community Development Programme were engaged, generally guided by the various groupings, criteria and preoccupations mentioned above, were determining for decisions which afterwards were presented as state policy. Such interactions were also an integral part of the process of policy transformation to which the Community Development Programme was subjected. They helped to produce both formal and informal I charts' for the implementation of the programme, which were at odds with the official ones. Nevertheless, the process showed itself to be efficient in reproducing the hidden social realities within the Zou CARDER while at the same time giving it the image of being up to date in the latest fashion of development language and practice.

    In the villages, the programme was variously implemented, with very little connection to what had been planned or to the regular injunctions and instructions from the General Director and his monitoring staff. Activities developed in the name of the programme, and particularly the everyday life of these activities, differed from one village to the next depending on a multiplicity of factors, such as the balance of power between local political forces (the socio-political landscape), recent intervention adventures in a village, the particular interests of the village agents appointed to the programme, etc. In Togoudo (the case documented in this book), a significant factor in the implementation of the programme, and a factor that might have played some role in other villages too, was the settlement patterns of the local population. This factor contributed to producing the existing socio- political landscape, to the pattern of the local economy, and to individual and household income generating activities.

    In fact, Togoudo, a residential composite of Idaca people who had arrived from villages in the surrounding Dassa hills during the early years of the colonial administration, enjoyed a dynamic and diversified economy. It was linked to the national and regional economy through the market of Gbomina and by frequent short and long term migrations of its inhabitants to Nigeria, Ghana and the Ivory Coast. The main income generating activity of the village was agricultyural production, on land over which the settlers held only insecure and problematic ownership rights, a situation typical for the relatively recent farm settlements of the Idaca, Fon and Ditamari cultivators on Nagot and Mahi territory of central Benin. But for men, the most successful survival and self-achievement strategies in the village were those in which agricultural production was combined with animal husbandry and, in some cases, the trading of agricultural products. For women, in addition to agriculture and animal (pig) husbandry, activities such as food processing (mainly cakpalo from millet and maize, and oil and kluiklui from groundnuts), trading of agricultural products and petty trade were important for economic and social success. These activities were combined in different ways and in varying degree, depending on several factors relating to the capability and organisational skills and strategies of individuals and groups of actors for mobilising productive resources - chiefly land, labour and credit. One further asset, crucial to self-achievement strategies, was the mobilisation or insertion into the networks of people in different geographical locations. This was instrumental to people's access to labour, credit, market and other external opportunities and depended on (but at the same time protrayed) the local ideologies on development and the different ways in which the people individually and collectively conceived of and worked to improve their own well-being (the local definition of 'rural development').

    In Togoudo, the activities within the programme fell broadly into two categories: the building of socio-economic infrastructure in the village, and the formation of men and women's groups whose objective was to create income-generating opportunities. Socio- economic infrastructure had already been initiated by villagers before the arrival of the RDV. These included a storehouse for agricultural inputs (mainly cotton), a maternity centre, a classroom for the village school (with the assistance of a German donor) and the maintenance of water pumps and wells. The buildings were funded, and expected to be funded, entirely from the resources of the CV - the cotton grower's association - and from the cash and labour contributions of villagers. The RDV, taking advantage on his arrival of the pressure put on the CV board by young Communitst Party members, introduced himself as a specialist in peasant cooperatives (which he indeed was) and managed to gain access to the village scene. He smuggled himself into village affairs and was given authority to look at the management of CV resources. This allowed him to secure a significant share of these resources for what he called development work in the village. But this authority was resented and frequently challenged by groups within the village, as well as groups in the CARDER, who felt the RDVs intervention was a threat to their own professional prerogatives and hierarchical position in the village and within CARDER. For the CV Secretary, for individual members of the CV Board and for some CARDER agents who had interests in the existing state of affairs, the involvement of the RDV in the management of the CV was intolerable. These people made various attempts to divert CV resourses to usages other than those agreed upon at the CV general assembly or as dictated by CV byelaws; they favoured an increase in the share of CV revenue distributed to board members; they allocated credit to individual cotton growers; they increased the running cost of the CV etc. In doing so, even though their actions solved the critical problems of some growers, their motives were more to hamper the plans of the RDV than to serve the best interests of village development.

    The income generating men and women's groups were formally presented as the cooperative or pre-cooperative ventures of groups of poor peasants working together and sharing the produce on an equitable basis. But in fact they were either family groupings, or made up of members coopted selectively by their leaders on the basis of a number of criteria. Such groups rarely included people from the lowest rank of the locally constructed socio- economic ladder. Furthermore, collective activities were limited to a minimum, while sub-groups were informally constituted within the groups around activities and concerns not disclosed to the RDV (at least he seemed not to know of them) but considered more relevant to the survival needs of the members. In some ways, as had occurred in its incorporation into the CARDER, the Community Development Programme helped reproduce the conflicts, groupings and leadership already existing among actors at local level. Here too, the RDV smuggled himself into the existing village trends in group formation, which were based on a mixture of logics and principles derived from various previous intervention fashions and operations, and all somehow deviant from what were considered good cooperative ways and practice. But the RDV had his reasons for embarking on such trends. Through his contacts with the head of CARDER and potential donors he appropriated the activities started by the groups, using his rhetorical skills to bridge the gaps and presenting all as ligitimate attempts on his part to implement the Community Development Programme in the village.

    These activities, supposed to turn the dying village into a dynamic place, actually covered only very marginal aspects of the local economy. Moreover, many of them served only a limited range of the socio-economic categories present in the village, excluding those barely surviving or keeping their heads above water, while including those considered to be the well- off. In fact, the rhetorical presentations of CARDER and the programme in various settings, drawing on different bits of the programme, served more the self-reproducing ends of the intervention itself than they did the development they sought to bring about. They processed old jargons and permanently created their own realities and problems. Within the village itself, and within the CARDER, the programme as such was considered to be irrelevant. People were prone to forget its existence. Any social changes occurring in this context derived from dismembered pieces of the package being incorporated and utilised by individuals to serve the aims of their own daily preoccupations and survival strategies. The pieces were made concrete as they were taken up in the local 'field of rural development', in the arenas and grounds that emerged from putting into practice existing normative conceptions of well-being in rural areas, and developed historically into a specific field of social interaction where policy makers, development practitiioners, social scientists and rural producers engage, as stakeholders, in struggles and negotiations over individual and collective interests. The various pieces are to be found, therefore, in various arenas and grounds where people meet over issues that are important to them but that seem to have nothing to do with the programme itself. In such conditions, structural ignorance, gaps and discrepancies become normal and attempts to bridge them or document the process turn development practitioners and social scientists into stakeholders themselves in the field of rural development.

    Peasant influence on development projects in Bénin: a critical analysis.
    Daane, J. ; Mongbo, R. - \ 1990
    In: Proc. 16th Congr. Rural Sociology, Working Group Peasants, bureaucrats and development experts: public discourse and alternative forms of accountability. Giessen, FRG (1990) 76
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