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Exploring diversity among farmers for orienting inter-disciplinairy action research on cropping system management in Wenchi, Ghana: the significance of time horizons

Adjei-Nsiah, S.; Leeuwis, C.; Sakyi-Dawson, O.; Giller, K.E.; Kuyper, T.W.

Abstract

This article examines different types of diversity among farm households in Wenchi, Ghana, and their relevance and implications for orienting action research aimed at combating soil fertility decline. Previously reported research suggested that cropping systems and indigenous practices affecting soil fertility differed significantly between and among the native population and migrants. These differences were associated with prevailing land tenure arrangements. This paper refines the native/migrant classification by exploring how it is intertwined with aspects such as ethnicity, gender and wealth. The study revealed that historical, ethnic and gender dimensions of diversity provide additional insights into livelihood patterns and soil fertility management which are relevant for fine-tuning technical and social action research agendas. It is argued that relevant differences between farm households result from the interplay between structural conditions and the strategies of active agents. The implication of the study is that action research efforts to design new technology and social arrangements for addressing soil fertility decline must be re-oriented and tailored further to meet the needs and aspirations of particular sub-groups of migrants and natives. Most significantly, it appears that the feasibility of negotiating alternative land tenure arrangements differs among different groups of migrants depending on whether they regard their stay as permanent or temporal.